Puyol’s goal is his sweetest sendoff for Spain

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.

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.”