Gerard Pique is like a defender that was crafted in God’s own image.
Standing an imposing 6’4, he’s as strong as an ox and as skilled as a little Argentine. You could stick him anywhere on the pitch and he’d be alright. Just like LeBron can play positions 1-5 on the basketball court, Pique would be OK all the way from goalie to striker.
Look no further than his antics in El Clasico if you want a taste of what Pique’s all about.
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Born in the holy footballing city of Barcelona, Pique was molded in La Masia (the club’s fabled youth program) along with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas.
It’s worth nothing that his grandfather, Amador Bernabeu, served as vice president of Barcelona when Pique was a wee tyke. Check out this old footage a young Pique and Fabregas chummin’ around.
Manchester United snatched him up at the tender age of 17, before he had the chance to sign his first professional contract with Barcelona.
When they “signed” him, Manchester United didn’t have to pay Barcelona a fee to acquire Pique because he was so young.
At Manchester United, Pique played alongside a young Cristiano Ronaldo, who was just starting to build his own legend.
“RONALDO IS LIKE A PERFECT MACHINE. HE HAS EVERYTHING.”
The teenaged defender also had the opportunity to soak up game from Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, the gruesome twosome that had a glorious run as the Red Devils’ world-beating center-back tandem.
“I MOVED TO MANCHESTER UNITED WHEN I WAS A 17-YEAR-OLD KID. NEMANJA VIDIC WAS FIVE YEARS OLDER THAN ME AND RIO FERDINAND NEARLY NINE YEARS AND AT THE TIME THEY WERE THE BEST CENTRAL DEFENDERS IN THE WORLD. THEY NEVER HAD A BAD GAME!”
Pique played well enough to earn himself a contract in 2005, one that was slated to keep him with the Reds until 2009.
However, in 2006, Pique went to Spanish side Real Zaragoza on a season-long loan. The terms stipulated that Pique was to play in at least 20 games. Manchester United didn’t send their investment there to collect dust.
Come the 2007-2008 season, he was back with Manchester United at Old Trafford in a major way. Pique’s first goal for Man U came in the Champions League in November 2007. He would strike again in the Champions League a month later.
But the Catalan’s affair with Manchester United would not last, and soon he would return to his ancestral home against the wishes of Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I’LL ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL TO SIR ALEX, WHO WAS LIKE A SECOND FATHER TO ME, FOR LETTING ME MOVE BACK TO BARCELONA. HE WANTED ME TO STAY AND FIGHT FOR A PLACE, BUT HE UNDERSTOOD WHAT BARCA MEANS TO ME.”
Return to Barcelona
“If you love something, set it free…”
In May 2008, Pique signed a four-year deal with Barcelona. The player they let walk to Manchester United cost them £5 million to get back.
By 2009, Pique had completed a mythical treble, winning La Liga, El Copa Del Rey, and the Champions League in one year.
At Barcelona, he was reunited with childhood friend Lionel Messi, who had matured from a quiet kid who didn’t talk much into the best player on the planet.
“LEO HAS GOT SOMETHING, SOME TALENT THAT I CAN’T DESCRIBE TO YOU THAT MAKES HIM THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD.”
Pique had one more grandmaster to study alongside at Barcelona – Carlos Puyol. The gallant center-back looked like he’d be more comfortable on horseback, rescuing damsels in distress than marshalling a back line.
But Pique’s relationship with Puyol left its mark on his game. Pique addressed Puyol in an open letter when he retired in 2014:
“YOU WERE THE CAPTAIN AND EMBLEM OF THE TEAM AND I WAS JUST A KID ARRIVING, SET ON CONQUERING THE WORLD…BY YOUR SIDE I FELT PROTECTED AND I KNEW THAT IF ONE DAY I MADE A MISTAKE YOU’D ALWAYS BE THERE TO SAVE ME.”
Pique’s extended his contract with Barcelona in 2010 and again in 2014. His latest deal will keep him with the team until 2019.
Hear Pique talk about the his experience at the hallowed Catalan club in his own words in a rare English interview below:
Barcelona won the Champions League in 2011 but 2015 was a truly special year. The team completed another treble, making them the first team in history to win the domestic league (La Liga), domestic cup (El Copa Del Rey), and European Cup (Champions League) twice.
Spanish National Team
While Pique was setting records with Barcelona, he was also cleaning up with the Spanish national team.
He started every game during Spain’s 2010 World Cup, anchoring a defense with Puyol that conceded only two goals on their way to lifting the trophy.
Pique also played in every minute of Spain’s victorious 2012 Euro campaign, leading a defense with Sergio Ramos that allowed only one goal in six games.
Life Outside Football
Good things come in small packages.
Pique met singer/songwriter/sweetheart/superstar Shakira while filming the music video for Waka Waka, which was the official song of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Check 1:10 for a Pique cameo.
Very impressive, Gerard. Your talent knows no bounds.
The little Colombian and the big Spaniard have been like two peas in a pod ever since. They’ve had two sons together but their bond runs even deeper; Shakira and Pique share the same birthday, February 2nd (although Shakira is 10 years older). Perhaps that provides some context for Pique’s signature “Deuce Deuce” goal celebration.
When it’s all said and done, Pique will have his place in the annals of football greats.