Barca Nepal. Barcelona legend Carles Puyol became the fourth player to be honoured with the ‘”One-Club Man” award by La Liga side Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Puyol, 40, was presented with the prize at halftime of Athletic’s 2-0 win against Real Betis at San Mames.
Athletic president Josu Urrutia launched the award four years to recognise those players that have displayed loyalty and commitment by dedicating their careers to just one club.
Former England and Southampton forward Matt Le Tissier became the first player to receive the honour in 2015.
Paolo Maldini (AC Milan and Italy) and Sepp Maier (Bayern Munich and Germany) are the only other recipients.
“I’m really happy to be here and, above all, to receive this award,” Puyol told BeIn Sports.
“I’m honoured because [Athletic] are a club that really value loyalty to one team. It’s especially satisfying because it values things which are difficult to find [in football] these days.”
Athletic are unique in Spain because of the fact they only field players of Basque origin, which was one of the reasons behind them launching the ‘”One-Club Man” award.
Many of their players are recruited from their academy and spend their entire careers with the club.
“It’s not easy to compete in the Spanish league with Athletic’s philosophy,” Puyol added.
“You have to give credit to what they do and the way they compete in the best league in the world. We all feel very proud of Athletic.”
Puyol joined Barcelona in 1995 and came through the club’s academy before making his first-team debut in 1999.
A tough-tackling centre-back, he went on to make 593 appearances for the Catalan club and won 100 caps for Spain before retiring from the game in 2014.
In collaboration with another former footballer, Ivan de la Pena, he currently works as an agent, with clients including Real Betis’ Marc Bartra and Barca B midfielder Carles Alena.
6 May 2018