May 15, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT
Until Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona teams recently won two European titles, the teams Dutch legend Johan Cruyff assembled in the late 1980s and early 1990s were held alone at Barça’s standard for greatness. According to Cruyff, speaking today at Carles Puyol’s retirement, the defensive linchpin for Barça’s recent standard bearers would have easily fit with his own European Cup winner.
Cruyff’s teams were the first to leverage the production of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, producing talents like Guardiola, José Mari Bakero and Txiki Begiristain to combine with the likes of Romário. Hristo Stoichkov, and Michael Laudrup. The club won four consecutive league titles starting in 1991 and also claimed the 1992 European Cup.
According to the team’s coach, Puyol — a six-time league-winner and three-time European champion — would have had no problem having an impact in another of Barcelona’s legendary squads.
“I’m sure Puyol could have played for the Dream Team,” Cruyff said on Thursday, according to AS.com.
Had he played in Barcelona’s 1992 team, Puyol would have likely started next to former Cruyff teammate Ronald Koeman, whose extra time free kick at Wembley delivered the 1992 European Cup to Barcelona. He would have also been next to a young Albert Ferrer, who went on to make over 200 league appearances for the club.
At 35, however, Puyol was a teenager when the Dream Team was collecting trophies – an age that leaves him only 35 at retirement. According to Cruyff, the World Cup-winner still has a lot to give the game.
“[Puyol’s] life isn’t going to stop, he’s 35 – he’s got many years ahead of him and he has so much knowledge to share.”
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