5 Mar 2014

Puyol to leave Barcelona at the end of the season

11:07 am on 5 March 2014

The Barcelona captain Carles Puyol will leave the Spanish football club at the end of the season after a decorated 15-year career at the Camp Nou.

35-year-old Puyol, who did not reveal whether he will continue playing elsewhere, has been plagued by injuries over the last couple of seasons and has undergone three knee operations.

Puyol signed a new deal with the club in January last year, but admitted in June that he would not stay if injuries continued to prevent him from playing a significant part on the field.

And having featured just 10 times this season in all competitions, he says it's time for a new challenge in a less physically demanding environment.

The announcement brings to an end an extraordinary career in the Barcelona first team that began in 1999.

Puyol is the club's second most decorated player of all-time, behind only teammate Xavi Hernandez, having made 593 appearances.

After beginning life as a right-back, he was converted into one of the most successful centre-backs in world football over the past decade as he won three Champions Leagues and six La Liga titles with his boyhood club.

He was also a key part of the Spanish sides that won the European Championship in 2008 and the country's first World Cup in 2010, memorably heading home the goal that took his side to the final in South Africa with a 1-nil win over Germany.