Sport Soccer

Monday 11 December 2017

Puyol to battle on for Spanish cause

Jamie Holland

Spain defender Carles Puyol has confirmed he will continue to play international football for two more years, helping La Roja defend their European title in Poland and Ukraine.

Reports last month claimed the veteran centre-back had decided to quit the international stage after adding football's biggest prize to his wealth of titles, in order to focus more on his club career at Barca.

However, Puyol, whose goal against Germany sent Spain through to their first World Cup final, has finally opted to continue until after the European Championships following discussions with coach Vicente del Bosque and sporting director Fernando Hierro.

"After turning the matter over in my mind a lot I have decided to continue for two more years with the national team, after talking to my team-mates, the coach, Fernando Hierro and friends, I opted to take this decision," he said.

Puyol, who was named in the team of the World Cup, has been a mainstay in Spain's back four since making his debut in November 2000.

The 32-year-old has 90 caps for Spain and, if he remains fit, is now likely to complete a century of appearances for his country.

Puyol has spent his entire career at Barca and has lifted 12 titles as skipper of the Catalan giants, as well as the two international trophies.

Meanwhile, Cameroon legend Rigobert Song has confirmed his retirement from international football.

Song is Cameroon's most capped player and the emblematic former captain made 137 appearances for the Indomitable Lions since making his debut in 1993.

He has appeared in four World Cup finals and eight African Nations Cup tournaments -- including a record five as captain -- but at the age of 34, has decided to hand over the mantle to younger players. "Men pass, the country remains," Song said at a specially convened press conference.

The former Metz, Liverpool, West Ham and Lens defender is the youngest player to have been sent off at the World Cup -- aged 17 in 1994 -- and, alongside Zinedine Zidane, is the only player to have been sent off in two World Cup finals.

Irish Independent

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