Carles Puyol, the legendary defender for Barcelona and Spain, has made many achievements during his football career.
Born on 13 April 1978 in La Pobla de Segur, Catalonia, Puyol started playing football for his hometown club as a goalkeeper. However, after injury problems with his shoulder, he became a forward.
In 1995, he joined FC Barcelona’s youth system at La Masia, switching positions again to play as a defensive midfielder; two years later, he started playing for the club’s B-team, occupying the position of right-back. He was promoted to the first team and he made his La Liga debut on 2 October 1999 in a 2-0 away win against Real Valladolid. On 15 May 2014, Barcelona bid farewell to Puyol, after a 15-year career with the first team (10 as captain) that earned him 21 titles. Puyol also played for the Spanish national team. He was part of the squad that won the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup tournaments.
Daily news Egypt sat down with the Spanish football icon during his visit to Egypt for an interview. The exchange follows, lightly edited for clarity.
Welcome to Egypt. Is this your first visit here?
I’m very happy to be in Egypt and this is my third time here and I will return to Egypt again with my colleagues.
What do you think of Egyptian football?
Egypt has world-class players and Mohamed Salah proved that.
How do you see Salah’s performance with Liverpool?
Salah plays awesomely with Liverpool. I advise the Arab players to take him as a role model and play in the European leagues because that will develop their levels.
Do you think Salah is like Lionel Messi?
I think they are quite different. Salah is very fast and unstoppable. He scored many goals this season, but Messi belongs to another planet.
Do you think Salah can be nominated for the Ballon d’Or?
Yes, Salah deserves to be among the nominees to win the 2018 Ballon d’Or, since he had a great season in England. If Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo won the World Cup, the competition for the international award will be fierce. For me, this is not fair. I think the Ballon d’Or should be granted to the best player on the pitch and it should not be associated with titles.
What about Egypt’s chances in the World Cup?
Egypt has a group of distinguished players with great experience, such as Salah, and I believe Egypt has good chances in the World Cup and it can qualify for the Round of 16.