Gianluigi Buffon has become a legend during his 16-year stint at Juventus and despite starting his career at Parma in 1995, his loyalty shown since to the Old Lady has cemented his place in Turin folklore.
Buffon’s ambition was to win the Scudetto, and despite winning the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia with Parma, it was his father who convinced him that a move to Juventus would be his best chance of achieving that dream.
In the summer of 2001, Buffon completed his move to Juventus for a €53 million fee (a world record for a goalkeeper). Since then he has gone on to win a staggering seven Serie A Titles, one Serie B Title, two Coppa Italias, five Supercoppa Italias and one World Cup (2006).
Quite an honours list, and judging by Juve’s odds in this season’s Serie A betting, those seven Serie A titles amassed by the goalkeeping legend could quite easily become eight by next year.
But it is more than silverware that has endeared the Juve fans to Buffon. In 2006 Juventus were relegated down to Serie B and despite an exodus of Old Lady players, World Cup winner Buffon cemented his legendary status by announcing he would remain loyal and stay with the club, and after having the summer of his life by remarkably guiding Italy to World Cup glory (and setting a World Cup record along the way of conceding just two goals) Buffon was the golden boy of not just Turin, but the whole of Italy.
Buffon’s continuous influence has been one of the main reasons Juventus have managed to re-establish themselves at the top of the game. Five Scudettos in a row are testament to that.
And despite the pending sale of Paul Pogba, they have managed to weaken their nearest rival Napoli, by pinching the league’s top goal scorer from last season Gonzalo Higuaín, and in pursuit of this year’s Scudetto, it is still hard to see anyone else mounting a fight over 38 games.
But how much further can Buffon take them? At 38, Buffon is entering (if not well in) the twilight of his career, but his mere presence lifts the team to new heights. His strive for almost perfection and dedication to the game and club puts most players to shame. Brazilian legend Ronaldinho perhaps said it best when discussing the impact this legendary shotstopper had had in his illustrious career: “There have been some very good goalkeepers over the years, but Buffon is there for consistency. Most of the goalkeepers have had times when their form has not been so good, but Buffon has been at such a high level for so long.”
We may only have a couple of seasons left of Buffon’s brilliance (after announcing he will retire at 40). But rest assured, whilst he is playing for the Old Lady, there is a belief that anything is possible.