here’s the second part of the Q&A with joan josep pallas (7oct)
Carles Puyol: “Abi, You Lift It”
The image of Abidal lifting the Champions League trophy while wearing the captain’s armband is already part of Barça’s history. How and when did the idea occur to you?
It was a nice tribute but very much deserved. I’d do it again. I already thought about it two weeks before the final but I did not decide until we were at Wembley, after stepping onto the pitch to play the final minutes. First, I gave the armband to Xavi so he could lift the trophy, but Xavi told me that I should lift it. It was then that I remembered what I had thought about two weeks before.
How did Abidal react?
I said, “Abi, you lift it.” “Are you sure?” he asked. “Absolutely, it’s yours,” I said, and I put the armband on him.
Speaking of Xavi, do you remember the old days, when you never won anything?
Yes, now and then we talk about it. There were five very tough years, and now we are enjoying a different age. We’ve lived through both sides of football.
You appreciate the titles more after going through a dry spell like that?
You appreciate everything much more. There are young players who only know about winning.
Focusing on this season, how are you physically?
Very good, picking up the pace. But more importantly, after playing a match, I feel good the next day.
For now, Mascherano has been CB and has been very good. And you, at times, you stay on the substitute bench..
Here, it is not about substitutes and starters. Here, we must be prepared for what the coach asks of you. Mascherano is incredible.
He deserved to play in the Champions League final, and is at a very high level.
But the 3-4-3 prevents is from seeing possibly the greatest CB pairing in history, you and Pique…
We have both been injured and there will be time for everyone. Also, the 3-4-3 works very well, it’s a very good system. There’s no problem.
After asking and asking for Cesc to come, the result of his return has been a “burden” to a centerback.
(laughs) I don’t see it. Thiago is also very versatile and we have many players like that. Such quality is a good thing. And I don’t associate Cesc with the 3-4-3. Cesc was injured and also played well at El Molinon.
Speaking of Thiago, he is maturing in meteoric fashion…
Thiago has had an amazing run, we’ll have this player for more than 10 years.
Is this Barça better than last year’s?
There have been very good additions. Now we have more quality and competence in the team, but it’s not comparable. We’ll
see. In the past year, we won very important titles and this year, aside from the two supercopas, everything’s yet to be done.
Has Madrid improved?
They know each other more. They’ve played together for a year and are one of the best teams in Europe. They’ll be in the fight until the end.
You know Mourinho. How could he attack Vilanova in that way?
These are games in which the tension sometimes triggers chaos, but acting that way is not justified. Anyway, it is best to turn the page and concentrate on our own team.
Should you do everything to win?
It depends on how you look at things. You should do everything as long as you don’t violate the rules.
What has to happen for Messi to be granted a penalty?
I don’t know, but if there’s a player who never dives, it’s Leo. But refereeing is very complicated and everyone should make their jobs a little easier.
What else can be said about Messi?
He is the best player in history. It’s hard to remember or imagine another player like him. I know I’m not objective and there are players from other eras I haven’t seen, but none can compare. He’s from another planet.
And you have shared a dressing room with Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Eto’o…
It’s that he does everything so easily… and the greatest thing about him is his character, his desire to play. He never gets tired of wanting the ball, he’s ambitious, a winner…
What impresses you most about everything he does?
Above all, it’s his humility. He’s a normal guy. He’s even a little timid, but he’s overcoming that. He likes football, and that’s it. Being who he is, and being aware of what he represents, he could have had a different attitude, but he doesn’t. And that makes
him even greater.