Puyol rules himself out... but not retiring
Spain defender Carles Puyol said yesterday impending knee surgery will rule him out of the Euro 2012 squad but he is not ready to end his international career.
The 34-year-old Barcelona captain, whose header against Germany famously took Spain into the final of a victorious 2010 World Cup campaign, said he expects to undergo the operation on Saturday.
Asked if he could still join the Euro squad, he told a news conference: “It would be very difficult. Those who are fittest have to go. It would be unfair to take a player who is not at 100 per cent.”
Puyol said he would have to wait to see how the operation goes: “But I think it is impossible.”
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has said he will release a provisional line-up on May 15 for the team going to Poland and Ukraine and a definitive list on May 27.
Spain, who are defending their European title, play their first game on June 10 against Italy.
Puyol, who has 99 caps, does not seem ready to end his playing days with the national squad.
“My plan is to carry on for many more years. But you have to take it season by season. We will see how I am at the start of the new season.
“But I am convinced I will come back fine, perfectly fit,” he said.
Puyol could not say whether the Euro 2008 campaign was his last in the competition.
“I don’t know if it was my last European Championship. But I want to retire on the field and not in the operating room,” he added.
“On Saturday I will go into the operating theatre and on Sunday I will start working on my recovery.”
Asked about his ambition to earn a 100th cap, Puyol said: “For now the only thing I am worried most is getting back to 100 per cent, and then if there is a chance to play the 100th game.”
Surgery means Puyol will also miss the final of the King’s Cup on May 25, when Barcelona face Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish capital’s Vicente Calderon stadium.
His absence will be sorely felt in the Spain squad, already hit by doubts over Puyol’s Barca team-mate, striker David Villa, who broke his leg in December in Barcelona’s Club World Cup semi-final win over Al Sadd.