Carles Puyol is calling it quits after a 15-year career with Barcelona and they bid him adieu with a wonderful video. But more importantly, it opens with a shot of a 14-year-old Puyol in 1994 with tremendous hair in an all-denim outfit.
When Puyol made his debut for Barcelona, they were the defending La Liga champions, but Puyol did not win a trophy in his first five years with the senior team.
In 2004, it all changed, both for Puyol and Barcelona. He was handed the captain's armband and that season they captured the league. The following season, they won it again and also won the Champions League. It was the start of a dynasty at Barcelona and while there were bigger starts - Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi often stole headlines - there was always the long haired captain at the back.
Over 15 years, when Barcelona went from a struggling club to the darling of the world to obnoxious dominators, Puyol was the constant and even when the club's superior attitude turned some off, the captain was still beloved. Amazingly, this happened despite Puyol being the ultimate embodiment of Barcelona, a La Masia product who was the ultimate "More Than A Club" man.
The 36-year-old Puyol made 100 appearances for Spain, winning the 2010 World Cup following the European Championship in 2008. Puyol said his best memory was after beating Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final, when he handed the captain's armband to teammate Eric Abidal so he could lift the European Cup first. Abidal had been battling liver cancer.
On a club full of superstars and big names, Puyol was the man at Barcelona.
Goodbye, Carles. We will miss you, and your hair.
Source: Associate Press, FC Barcelona