You don’t see characters like Carles Puyol in football these days.
The former Barcelona and Spain centre-back was the dictionary definition of a warrior on the pitch.
He would play hard but was always incredibly fair – both to his teammates and opponents.
Like all great captains, Puyol demanded 100 per cent effort from Barça’s players every single day.
As the retired defender celebrates his 43rd birthday, we thought we’d cast your minds back to a serious contender for the most awkward moment in football history.
Back in 2013, Puyol made a wonderful gesture after Barcelona sealed the La Liga title following a victory over Real Valladolid at Camp Nou.
Puyol turned down the honour of lifting the trophy in front of Barça’s fans and instead returned to the assembled squad to grab Eric Abidal.
Abidal, who had recently recovered from the liver transplant that saved him from a tumour, was presented with the incredible opportunity to lift the trophy alongside manager Tito Vilanova thanks to Puyol’s generosity
Vilanova, Pep Guardiola’s former assistant, was battling cancer at the time and tragically passed away at the age of 45 in April 2014.
However, as Puyol extended his hand towards Abidal, Alex Song (for some reason we still can’t understand) genuinely thought that he was being offered the chance to lift the trophy.
Song had experienced a difficult debut season with the Catalan giants following his 2012 move from Arsenal, so quite why he thought Puyol wanted *him* to lift the trophy when Abidal was stood right next to him is anyone’s guess.
It’s still impossible to watch the footage without cringing – but if you’re brave enough, here it is…
Gah. Make it stop!
Abidal and Vilanova eventually lifted the trophy moments later and the former admitted it’s his fondest memory from his entire career.
“The best memory I have here is when I lifted the league trophy with Tito [Vilanova],” he was quoted saying by Marca in 2017.
”Also, in the last match I played here I was able to bring my cousin [who donated part of his liver to help the player’s recovery] out to the middle of the pitch and he deserved it.
“I managed to get a lot of people to applaud him and I think that represents what Barcelona is all about.”
Song, meanwhile, ended up playing a total of 65 matches for Barcelona, scoring one goal, before moving to West Ham on loan.
The former Cameroon international then signed for Rubin Kazan, Sion, and is now reportedly on the books of Djibouti Premier League side Arta/Solar7.