By the end of this season, one of the very last representations of romantic soccer will finally be coming to an end, as Spain star Carles Puyol has announced his imminent goodbye from his club, Barcelona. Without a doubt, the story of the 35 year old is one of the last examples of how in today’s soccer, attachment to a club can be more valuable than money itself.
As it is well known that legends are always inspired by other legends, it is not a secret that the real idol of the 2010 World Cup winner is the one and only Paolo Maldini, another authentic hero of romantic soccer. For the former AC Milan captain, it is another demonstration of his immense legacy that goes beyond the numerous titles he accomplished.
Furthermore, in occasion to the five-time Champions League winner’s retirement in 2009, Puyol took the time to dedicate a very emotional letter explaining why he was so inspired by the former Italian defender ever since the beginning of his career. Here is the complete English translation of his words:
I know that all players retire from football. Some earlier than others. However, I thought that you’d never retire from soccer. You are the great Maldini, ‘the tireless.’ Despite the fact that you were 40 years old, you remained competitive.
You began your playing career when I was a child, and I never stopped admiring you. People say that when you grow up, you lose your idols. But not me. I continue to admire you more and more.
I admired your way of defending, your sacrifice and your tactical discipline. But, mainly, I admired that way you live football, something that I have tried to copy at Barça. I can never recall a bad word in an interview or press conference, or a huge foul. You are a clear example, to demonstrate, that it’s not necessary to be violent to be a good defender. You have dignified the work of footballers that don’t score goals.
You showed me that you must always be involved in the match. No matter who the opponent is. You have won countless awards and you’ve won numerous titles with a great club like Milan and the Italian National Team. That’s not easy. Now, you retire from football and I’m sad because my dream is not going to come true. I wish we could’ve played on the same team.
Football would never be the same without Maldini. It’s not just Milan who are losing a great player. People who admire you, are losing a reference.
I wish you a great future with plenty of happiness. Thank you for being who you were and for giving everything to football.