#3 A Leader On and Off the Pitch
Carles Puyol was not only a leader on the pitch, dictating the rhythm of the game, he was also a compassionate human being off the pitch. He was stern with his team while playing matches however, his understanding nature made him an overall gentleman. One instance of his selflessness was seen during the 2011 UCL finals. Barcelona won the cup at Wembley by beating Manchester United 3-1. It was going to be Puyol’s final UCL trophy and even though the Spanish player knew that it was a possibility, he made an unforgettable gesture that night.
One of Barcelona’s players, Eric Abidal, had fought against cancer that year and made a remarkable recovery to come back to the pitch. Puyol knew the amount of hard work and torment Abidal went through and thus he let Abidal lift the UCL trophy even though it is traditionally lifted by the captain. It was a moment that Abidal will never forget and he has often talked about this gesture in interviews later on.
This was not one isolated incident either, he was always showing respect to his teammates and even to his opponents. He would stop his teammates from over-celebrating however, he would also be the first one to help them off the pitch. When Ronaldinho was imprisoned, Puyol was on the phone to keep him positive and motivated, when Samuel Eto and Ronaldinho had a fight, the club captain was the one who defused the situation. This showed the world that not only was he a leader on the pitch, but he was also a leader off the pitch.