The powerful header that sent Spain into its first World Cup final may be remembered as Carles Puyol’s perfect going-away gift, as the veteran defender mulls international retirement after the tournament.
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Puyol scored with a thunderous header in the 73rd minute on Wednesday to secure a 1-0 win over Germany.
The 32-year-old Puyol said he will make a decision on his future with the national team after the final. If the Barcelona center back decides to go, it will be with style as he scored for only the third time in his 89th appearance for Spain.
"After everything he’s given to the national team he deserves a goal like that," fellow defender Joan Capdevila said. "The trajectory he brings here is so admirable, and what better present than to put us into a final."
As usual, Puyol was mum after the match at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, leaving his teammates to tell of perhaps the most important goal for a player who has achieved every club level success possible on top of the 2008 European Championship triumph.
"Let’s hope he scores again and gives us another win," said striker David Villa, who has a tournament-best five goals in South Africa.
Puyol’s long, unkempt hair and robust physique have given him the nickname "Tarzan," but opposing strikers don’t offer laughs when it comes to a player who has led Barcelona to multiple Champions League and Spanish league triumphs over an 11-year career.
Yet Puyol’s knack for scoring in big games is also apparent. He scored from a near identical header in Barcelona’s record 6-2 victory at archrival Real Madrid in 2009.
"Clearly, to score from a corner kick against Germany is tough," Capdevila said. "Carles did it so well since these games are decided by the smallest details."