- Category : Footballer
- Type : GE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (18,38,52)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sphinx 1
Gerard Piqué i Bernabeu (born 2 February 1987) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for FC Barcelona and the Spain national team.
A product of Barça's cantera, La Masia, he initially left the club for Manchester United in 2004, where he remained for four years, before returning to Barça under Pep Guardiola's leadership, helping the club become the first ever to complete a Sextuple. Piqué is one of four players to have won the UEFA Champions League two years in a row with different teams, the others being Marcel Desailly, Paulo Sousa and Samuel Eto'o.
Piqué has also represented Spain, making his debut on 11 February 2009. He played an integral role in the Spain team that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012.
Born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Piqué started his career in FC Barcelona's youth teams as a defensive midfielder, but before he signed his first professional contract with the club, he decided to join Manchester United. The Premier League side did not pay a fee for Piqué as he was too young to have a professional contract.
Piqué made his debut for Manchester United in October 2004, as a late replacement for John O'Shea in a 3–0 League Cup victory at Crewe Alexandra as a centre-back. He made his full debut on 29 March 2006 against West Ham United, in a Premier League match at Old Trafford, playing at right-back, as Gary Neville was unavailable through injury.
His performances, most notably in the reserve team, earned him a new contract, which he signed in February 2005 to run until the summer of 2009. On 4 August 2006, however, La Liga side Real Zaragoza secured Piqué on a season-long loan. The conditions of the loan involved Piqué having to feature in at least 20 games for the Aragonese outfit, which he did, as he made 22 first team appearances in a successful spell, alongside Argentine Gabriel Milito, either as a stopper or a holding midfielder.
On 5 May 2007, it was announced that Piqué would be staying at Old Trafford for the following season. Sir Alex Ferguson had intended to assess Piqué's form at La Romareda on 6 May, prior to a meeting where the two parties would discuss Piqué's future prospects with the club. However, Ferguson was unable to attend on account of airline difficulties.
Piqué's return to Old Trafford saw him make nine league appearances during the 2007–08 season. He scored on his first start in the Champions League, a 4–0 home win against Dynamo Kyiv on 7 November 2007, as Piqué scored the first of Manchester United's four goals in that match. In doing so, he became the 450th player to score at least one goal for the club. His second goal for the club also came in the Champions League, in an away match to Roma on 12 December 2007.
Return to Barcelona
On 27 May 2008, Piqué signed a four-year contract with Barcelona, with a €5 million buy-out clause. Barcelona paid a £5 million fee for the player. He expressed his joy at re-signing with his boyhood club, although he admitted he had enjoyed his spell at Manchester United:
"I am very happy to be back, I didn't think I would be here again but this is very good for me. Manchester United is a great club and I enjoyed winning things. To play with world class players has helped me and now I want to continue this at Barça."
Piqué's first goal for Barcelona came in the club's 5–2 Champions League group stage win at Sporting CP on 26 November 2008. His first domestic goal for the club followed two months later, on 29 January 2009, in a Copa del Rey match against local rivals Espanyol. The goal, which came from a corner kick in the 57th minute, turned out to be the game winner in a 3–2 victory for Barcelona. On 2 May 2009, Piqué scored Barcelona's sixth goal in a 6–2 El Clásico win against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
On 13 May 2009, he picked up the first trophy of his Barcelona career as he helped his club to a 4–1 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey Final. Three days later, Barcelona clinched the league title after Real Madrid lost 3–2 to Villarreal, with two games left in the season.
On 27 May 2009, Piqué played against his former club Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League Final, which Barcelona won 2–0, completing an historic treble.
On 19 December 2009, Piqué was in the Barcelona team which beat Argentine club Estudiantes 2–1 in the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup Final. Piqué assisted Pedro Rodríguez's 89th minute equalising goal which took the match to extra-time.
On 26 February 2010, Piqué signed a contract extension to keep him at Barcelona until at least summer 2015. On 28 April 2010, Piqué scored in Barcelona's Champions League semi-final second leg against Internazionale, though his side went out 3–2 on aggregate.
On 28 May 2011, Piqué played in his second Champions League Final. Barça defeated Manchester United 3–1 at Wembley Stadium to lift the European Cup for the second time in three seasons. On 1 May 2013, Piqué scored an own goal for FC Bayern Munich in Camp Nou which made score 0–2 in favour of Bayern. Later Bayern went on to win 0–3 and 7–0 on aggregate.
On 20 May 2014, Piqué signed a contract extension with Barcelona, keeping him at the club until 2019.
Piqué was a member of the Spain under-19 side that won the 2006 U-19 European Championship in Poland. In a 2–1 final win against Scotland, Piqué put in a strong performance in defence, hitting the crossbar with a header, and also providing his team's second goal for striker Alberto Bueno.
Subsequently, he played in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, starting all six of Spain's matches and scoring a goal in the team's come-from-behind 4–2 victory over Brazil in the round of 16. However, Piqué missed the deciding penalty against the Czech Republic and Spain were eliminated at the quarter-final stage.
On 6 February 2009, Piqué was called up to the senior squad for the friendly against England on 11 February. He played the entire match in a 2–0 win, in Seville. In his second match as an international on 28 March 2009, he was called up as a replacement for injured team-mate Carles Puyol and he scored the only goal in Spain's victory in the 2010 World Cup qualifier against Turkey at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid. Four days later, he also started in Istanbul in a 2–1 win, also in the group stage.
Piqué made his tournament debut for Spain at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, starting in four of the team's five matches as La Roja finished in third place.
Piqué was Spain's first-choice centre-back playing alongside Puyol at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, starting all seven matches as Spain won the tournament, defeating the Netherlands 1–0 in the final. Piqué's partnership with Puyol saw Spain concede only twice in seven World Cup matches and keep four consecutive clean sheets in the knockout stage. In Spain's 1–0 group stage defeat to Switzerland, just before Gelson Fernandes scored the only goal of the game, Swiss striker Eren Derdiyok tumbled over Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas and accidentally kicked Piqué in the face, knocking him over and leaving him with a nasty cut beside his right eye.
Piqué played every minute of Spain's UEFA Euro 2012 campaign, partnering Sergio Ramos in the centre of defence. He successfully converted the team's third penalty in a semi-final shootout win over Portugal. In the final, Spain recorded a fifth consecutive clean sheet in a 4–0 win over Italy. Piqué was one of three Spanish defenders included in UEFA's Team of the Tournament as La Roja conceded only one goal in six matches.
At the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, Piqué was the third of Spain's seven successful takers in a 7–6 shootout win over Italy at the semi-final stage. On 30 June 2013, Piqué was sent off during the final against Brazil. He received a straight red card in the 68th minute for a violent tackle on recently signed Barcelona team-mate Neymar. The match finished 3–0 to Brazil, ending Spain's world record 29 match unbeaten run in competitive internationals.