Carles Puyol Named Athletic’s “One Club Player” Award Winner
Four years ago Athletic Club began something very unique that has since become respected around the world. The Basque giants decided to award one player every year with what they call “The One Club Player Award” given to someone of their choosing that has spent his entire career with one team and represented the values for which the prize is named. In the first three years the winners were Matt Le Tissier, Paolo Maldini, and Sepp Maier and with each passing year anticipation has grown. This year, former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol was chosen for the prestigious award.
Puyol was a member of FC Barcelona from 1999 until he retired in 2014, amassing nearly 600 games for the Catalans and winning a lot of trophies along the way. The 40-year-old also happens to be the first former La Liga player to be honored with the award. Puyol landed in Bilbao on Friday and spent time at Athletic’s facilities with the team, coaching staff, and President Josu Urrutia who had the following to say ahead of the ceremony.
“The difference with the other winners so far is that Puyol’s trajectory in the league saw him competing against Athletic for years, but there is a common denominator. Maldini, Maier, and Puyol have all been in great teams where it is hard to break through and develop your career. At big clubs there are always offers to leave, bad moments, and times of personal triumph. It is not easy to spend your entire career at a big club because of the demand of personal performance, but also because of the expectations. There are people who see things differently and Puyol is one of them. That is why we have honored him with this year’s award.”
After landing in Bilbao on Friday, Puyol spoke to AthleticTv about what is means to win the award and also revealed why he brought out the Basque flag after beating Athletic in the Copa del Rey a few years back. The Barcelona legend has a lot of respect for Athletic and things that it is a great honor to be winning their award because of what it values in today’s football landscape.
“It is a special feeling to win this award because it values things that are hard to find today. I am very happy to be receiving this honor. Bringing out the Ikurriña? It was a spontaneous act. In the end it was a gesture to return the affection of a club that had just lost a final. They deserved to be applauded and I wanted to pay tribute. I see Athletic as a club with huge merit because of the philosophy they have. It is incredible to be competing in the best league in the world like this. Nowadays you can signed players from all over the world, but Athletic continues with their philosophy and are still one of the clubs who have never been relegated. I have a lot of respect towards Athletic.”
Carles Puyol is a universally known figure in the footballing world and represents exactly what it means to be devoted to one’s club and to always have respect for the sport. Like the three award winners before him, he is the quintessential One Club Man and is fully deserving of the honor. The ceremony will take place at halftime of Saturday’s match at the San Mamés where Carles Puyol will officially be given his award.