Like a fine wine, Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon just gets better with age.
Buffon seeks to become the oldest player ever to win a Champions League medal, on Saturday night. The Juventus keeper is a sprightly 39 years old and would surpass the previous mark of Paolo Maldini’s 38 years, 331 days, when he skippered AC Milan to victory against Liverpool, in the 2007 final.
Despite all the accolades the Italian has accumulated over his storied career, the Champions League has eluded him, thus far. While he shows no signs of slowing down, one would think this could be his last tilt at the one club title that has escaped his ever-safe clutches.
Despite his advancing years, Buffon has been imperious in the Champions League all season. the Bianconeri no.1 has only conceded to Monaco wonderkidThe Kylian Mbappe, in the knock-out stages of the competition. He has only conceded 3 goals in Juve’s 12 matches, overall. Along with the Italian wall of Chiellini and Bonucci, Buffon has repelled the best of what Europe had to offer.
Messi, Neymar and Suarez barely rose a gallop in the face of the Italian maestros of defence. When called upon against Barca, Buffon showed his reflexes are still razor sharp.
While he has the chance to become the oldest winner, Buffon will not be the oldest player in a Champions League final. Dino Zoff was 41 years 86 days when Juve lost to Hamburg in 1983. Meanwhile, Edwin Van Der Sar was 40 years 211 days when Man United were downed by Barcelona in 2011.
A shutout of the greatest goal scorer of this (or possibly any generation) Cristiano Ronaldo, would be a fitting narrative to accompany Buffon’s first Champions League triumph. It may also be the catalyst behind a shock Ballon D’Or for one of the finest net-minders ever witnessed in the beautiful game.
One would guess the neutrals will be rooting for the Old Lady and their grand old master.
Noel Ryan, Pundit Arena
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we take a look at a big ten days for Martin O’Neill’s side as well as the usual review of the latest League of Ireland action.