Spanish 'Tarzan' targets ultimate glory against the Netherlands

Puyol scored with a thunderous header in the 73rd minute on Wednesday night to secure a 1-0 win over Germany. The 32-year-old Puyol said he will make a decision on his future with the national team after the final. If the Barcelona centerback decides to go, it will be with style as he scored for only the third time in his 89th appearance for Spain.

“After everything he’s given to the national team he deserves a goal like that,” fellow defender Joan Capdevila said. “The trajectory he brings here is so admirable, and what better present than to put us into a final.”

As usual, Puyol was mum after the match at Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium, leaving his team-mates to tell of perhaps the most important goal for a player who has achieved every club level success possible on top of the 2008 European Championship triumph.

"Puyol the shark has taken us to the final," his jubilant Barcelona team-mate David Villa, who is joint top scorer at the tournament in South Africa with five goals, told reporters. “Let’s hope he scores again and gives us another win,’’ said striker Villa.

Germany coach Joachim Loew criticised his team for not picking out Puyol's run into the area but acknowledged the "massive power" and "great determination" he demonstrated.

"This was a set piece and there's always a mistake if you concede a goal at a set piece," Loew said at a news conference.  "There were two of our defenders somewhere close and we should have anticipated the ball," he added.

"We didn't do that ... and Puyol approached us too quickly and thumped the ball in."
Puyol’s long, unkempt hair and robust physique have given him the nickname “Tarzan,” but opposing strikers don’t offer laughs when it comes to a player who has led Barcelona to multiple Champions League and Spanish league triumphs over an 11-year career.

Yet Puyol’s knack for scoring in big games is also apparent. Puyol, who started his career as a goalie at junior levels, scored from a near identical header in Barcelona’s record 6-2 victory at archrival Real Madrid in 2009.

“Clearly, to score from a corner kick against Germany is tough,” Capdevila said. “Carles did it so well since these games are decided by the smallest details.” Puyol's all-round performance was "spectacular", Villa said while midfielder Xabi Alonso added: "There were 10 minutes where we were camped outside their penalty area but didn't score and then Puyol arrived like a young wild boar and scored."

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is a Barcelona fan, added his voice to the acclaim, telling Spanish radio: "What a leap, what a header by Puyol! He is superb."

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