A shaggy-haired colossus in defence, Puyol is the unmistakeable rock upon which both club and country rest. Whether performing at right-back or centre-back, the Barcelona captain has not missed an international tournament since the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and he offers invaluable experience and versatility.
Since joining Barcelona's academy from La Pobla de Segur at the age of 17, Puyol has been at the spiritual heart of the Catalan club, although his position on the pitch has been less easily defined. Starting out as a right-back under Louis van Gaal in the 1999-2000 season, Puyol soon shifted across the pitch and it is at the centre of defence that he has secured his reputation as one of the more formidable defenders around.
He had to wait until 2004-05 to claim his first trophy at the Nou Camp when Barca secured the Primera Liga title, but that was followed the next season by a league and Champions League double. In typically selfless fashion, Puyol has played at left-back and also performed at right-back in the absence of Dani Alves when Barca won six trophies throughout the 2008-09 season. His career reached its peak as he was central to Spain's wins at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
Strengths: Puyol boasts tremendous stamina which, allied with his brute strength and good anticipation, makes him a significant obstacle. Possesses leadership qualities in abundance and his versatility is a real asset for a national side that is still to establish a settled defence.
Weaknesses: His lack of pace can be exploited on occasions and Puyol can be exposed by a mobile and nimble striker.
Career high: Lifting the 2010 World Cup trophy, his header sealed progress to the final with a 1-0 win over Germany in the semis.
Career low: Seeing his place in the side come under-fire and being linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur in the 2008 January transfer window.
Style: Passionate, selfless, committed, a no-nonsense defender.
Quotes: "He is a person that cares and works hard on a daily basis with the squad. He is an exemplary [Barcelona] captain in this respect. He is an example when it comes to diet and fitness because he takes care of the details of looking after himself." Victor Valdes, October 2009.
Trivia: Puyol is the Catalan who has represented Spain on the most occasions, surpassing former Barca player Sergi Barjuan when winning his 57th cap in October 2007.