All good things must come to an end, and in the case of Gigi Buffon, that sad day has come for Juventus fans around the world. Last week the ageless wonder announced this will be his final and last season at Juventus. The heart and soul of the team went out with a bang, winning the Supper Coppa Italia, but in his mind, it would have been fitting to win a Champions League trophy that has eluded him his whole career.
It all started when he was signed as a teenager at Parma.
Buffon moved to Serie A side Parma as their third-choice goalkeeper. In 1995 the fate gifted him a rare chance which footballers seldom get. In the absence of first-choice keepers, Gigi was given a chance to play his first official match against a mighty Milan side coached by Fabio Capello which included the likes of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, and Franco Baresi in the back and the deadly attacking trio of Ballon d’Or winner George Weah, Italian demi-god Roberto Baggio and Croatian playmaker Zvonimir Boban in front. At the end of the match which was a goalless stalemate, Buffon emerged as the talk of the town excelling in his perfect debut against all the odds.
In his four professional seasons with Parma, Buffon won two Italian Cups and a European Cup. He played with the shining stars of that era like Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, and Hernan Crespo. Yet his journey of fame did not begin until Juventus announced a deal with the new goalkeeper from Parma for 52 million euros, which is still the highest transfer fee paid for a goalkeeper in the history of football.
Before the Old Lady showed their interest in Buffon, Roma and Barcelona were trying to lure him. But he knew that Juventus was searching for a perfect replacement for departing Edwin Van der Sar, and he accepted the offer without any hesitation.
World Cup Glory and Serie A Scandal:
Buffon not only won the world cup that night but also voted as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. He was also nominated for the Golden Ball behind Fabio Cannavaro. But unfortunately as an anti-climax, a twist came before the end of the World cup victory celebration. Italy was burning by the infamous Calciopoli that hit European football. Unearthed in May 2006, the scandal implicated Italian giants Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina as part of a match-fixing offense in Serie A. The alleged thick network of communication between team Managers and referee organizers for rigging games by selecting favourable match officials was uncovered. The scandal affected Juve, one of the grandest football clubs in the world so badly. Two league titles were taken away from the Turin outfit, they were obliterated from the record books of Italian top flight and the Bianconeri were finally demoted to Serie B after the punishment was reduced from relegating them to the third tier, Serie-C.
The team players started to move to other clubs, nobody stayed except Alessandro Del Piero, Pavel Nedved, and David Trezeguet. Liverpool was firm to get Buffon, Arsenal also was in the race for the highly rated keeper, the rumors started to flow. But in the end, Buffon stayed in true Buffon fashion, showing heart and loyalty always.
Champions League: A missed opportunity
Buffon has won a lot of titles, whether it is with Juventus or with Parma before. The best one is of course the World cup. But his one dream still remains, to win the UEFA Champions League. This time it was bad luck for him and he was much disappointed, he says; I have won every title which I wanted, but I could not win it, by each year my age is increasing, and his only wish goes more and more far from him.
When he lost the champions league final against AC Milan he was highly disappointed which he did not show until many years. It seems that disappointment is inevitable when he lost this time, especially against Real Madrid, the team that is approaching the championship monopoly for itself.
In 2014/15 Buffon lost against Barcelona in the final, now in the two consequent seasons they lost against Real Madrid first one in the 2016/17 final, and in 2017/18 in the quarter in the 90-minute goal, in which Buffon was given the red card in his final game for protesting an injury-time penalty awarded to the Los Blancos. Facing Real Madrid has become a real curse which he does not know how to get rid of.
Now after winning 9 Serie A titles, 5 league cups, and six super cups, and becoming the player that played most matches with 175 international caps, he bids farewell to the Old Lady after spending an incredible twenty years in her laps. Now his Breathing becomes less, his heartbeats out of fear, he doesn’t know where his direction is, but the love of the masses calls him to complete the journey even in any home other than Juve, with new mates which he never used to play.