Even at 41, even after such a glorious career, Gianluigi Buffon is still searching. Searching for the perfect ending.
“For me the Champions League will forever be the highest level, the best tournament to play in,” Buffon explains. “I say thank you for all the emotion that the Champions League has given me. But I hope to have another opportunity to win it because it would be the perfect end to my career.”
That opportunity continues when Paris St-Germain travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the first leg of their hugely-anticipated last-16 tie. Buffon will be in goal for PSG having been lured away from his plans to retire at the end of last season when he left Juventus, and when an exceptional career appeared to be closing.
The word “legend” is used freely in football but it supremely applies to Buffon, the greatest goalkeeper of modern-time, of all-time; a true, iconic great. “An honour to be part of your history,” was one of the many birthday messages recently posted on social media for Buffon. It came from his PSG team-mate, Neymar.
This is Buffon’s 24th season since making his debut aged just 17. He finished on 176 caps for Italy, nine Serie A titles, five Italian Cups, a Uefa Cup and the small matter of a World Cup win, in 2006. All he needs is the Champions League for the full set.