Time For Juve’s Gianluigi Buffon To Realise His European Dream!

When I think about world class players playing well into their thirties then it’s usually Italian stars that come to mind.

Players like Franco Baresi, Gianfranco Zola, Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Del Piero, Andrea Pirlo and Francesco Totti all enjoyed vast careers as top, top talents. Age never seemed to dull them of their talent.

Today, Gianluigi Buffon will lead Juventus out in Cardiff as the Old Lady looks to secure their third European Cup/Champions League title.

Ironically it’s the only major honour that has so far passed the thirty-nine year old goalkeeper by.

He’s probably been top of his game since his Parma days in the late nineties. It was during that time, playing for ‘I Gialloblù’, that I saw for myself just how great Buffon was

His Parma side were paired to face Ranfers in European competition twice in two years, with each side tasting victory.

Parma had fantastic players during those years like Juan Veron, Hernan Crespo, Lillian Thuram and Cannavaro but Buffon was the one that stood out. You knew that no matter what you had to beat the best keeper in the world to stand any chance of success.

He is one of those players that had an aura about him. Probably the only keeper I’ve seen that had that absolute wow factor. He would draw your eyes even when he wasn’t doing something and the ball was in the opposite end of the field.

Consistency is usually a key trait in a world class goalie. Buffon has played in over eight hundred club games in the last twenty or so years. In that time, injury has only really hampered him in two seasons.

Only AC Milan legend Maldini has made more Serie A appearances than Gianluigi. It’s very likely that Buffon will break that 647 game record next year.

It’s hard to think of any mistakes he has made, he’s certainly not made many.

His clean-sheet records are outstanding. Only a year ago Buffon created a new record for longest time without conceding a goal, when he went 973 consecutive minutes without picking the ball out of the net. He also holds the record for most clean-sheets in the Italian top flight.

No one has bettered his 168 caps for the Azzurri. He’s still adding to that figure and is still his nation’s captain. Buffon played a huge part in Italy’s World Cup triumph in 2006 but unlike others he didn’t walk away from the national team, no he continued to shine for his country!

Consistent world-class performances brings you medals. Buffon is testament to that and has plenty of gold to show for his efforts. He’s won the Scudetto on numerous occasions, the Coppa Italia four times and the UEFA Cup with Parma.

The only thing missing is that elusive Champions League winners medal.

He’s reached the final on two occasions but finished runner-up on both nights.

This season feels different.

Juventus have only conceded three goals on their way to the final. Buffon kept out messrs Messi, Suarez and Neymar out in the quarter final stage. He then got the better of next generation superstar Kylian Mbappe in the semis.

In the final the world’s top goalkeeper comes up against the Champions League’s greatest ever goalscorer in Cristiano Ronaldo. It will be a challenge that Buffon will look forward to.

I could tell you all about Buffon’s best qualities. He commands respect from those playing in front of him, Gianluigi’s concentration levels are second to none and his reflexes are still top notch.

But I think one of Buffon’s better traits is his character. He’s a supreme professional and he’s also very gracious. He’ll always praise teammates and opponents.

Gianluigi Buffon is also a very loyal player, he has stuck by Juve through thick and thin. You don’t hear anyone saying anything negative about the legend.

His manager Max Allegri was full of praise after the recent win over Monaco:

“On Buffon, what can I say,”

“He is still the number one keeper in the world. In the big matches he makes these performances, as he did against Barcelona.”

People want him to do well and want to see him lift the Champions League trophy because they respect the man and the admire the goalkeeper’s ability in between the sticks.

I really hope he does it and gets the chance to realise his dream!

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