Gianluigi Buffon eager to fulfil Champions League dream

39-year-old goalkeeper would be oldest player to win title if Juventus beat Real Madrid

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon: “I am aware that if I play well, I will be able to help my team so this would be the greatest gift I could give my team-mates.” Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon: “I am aware that if I play well, I will be able to help my team so this would be the greatest gift I could give my team-mates.” Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

 

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon knows he cannot let slip this chance to finally fulfil his dream of Champions League glory.

The best shot-stopper of his generation has a medal collection befitting of his standing in the game, but continental glory remains a glaring omission from the veteran’s success-laden CV.

Buffon is the sole survivor of the Juventus side that lost the 2003 final to AC Milan and feared his last chance at Champions League glory had passed by after suffering the same fate against Barcelona two years ago.

But, at the age of 39, the World Cup winner finally has a chance to win the trophy he dreams of when Massimiliano Allegri’s side face holders Real Madrid under the roof in Cardiff.

“Probably the emotions I might feel might be different to any other guy who is younger than me or any other player like Dani,” Buffon said, sat next to three-time Champions League winner Dani Alves at the pre-match press conference.

“Dani has already won this competition and he has at least four or five years ahead of him in his career. I have to exclude this possibility as far as I am concerned, so, yes, it will be much more special for me.

Without regrets

“But at the same time, I want to play this game without regrets and without thinking of these issues. This is my moral imperative for this game and I hope I can manage to do that because our team is very compact and based on collaboration.

“I am aware that if I play well, I will be able to help my team so this would be the greatest gift I could give my team-mates.”

Buffon is the last line of a miserly defence that has conceded just three goals in Juventus’ unbeaten journey to Cardiff, producing displays that have belied his advancing years.

At 39 years 126 days, the Italy international would replace compatriot Paolo Maldini as the oldest player to win the Champions League – but such records mean little to someone who still feels like a “young boy”.

“When you get to this stage, you know perfectly well how you arrived here and all the effort that you have had to put into your work,” Buffon told a packed press conference in a tent outside the ground.

“There’s nothing better in life than to obtain a reward after working so hard and sweating to get it.

Unstoppable force

“There’s nothing better than sharing this prize with your team-mates, with a group of people that you’ve worked with for months and months, with team-mates who have perhaps worked even more than I have to reach this point.”

Juventus knocked out Porto, Barcelona and Monaco to set-up Saturday’s final against a Real Madrid side attempting to retain the Champions League crown.

It looks to be the unstoppable force against the immovable object, but something has to give and Buffon hopes it is the Bianconeri’s poor record on the biggest stage.

Juventus have lost their past four Champions League finals and six in total — more than any other club.

“We do have trust in our capabilities for tomorrow,” Buffon, in his 16th season at Juventus, said.

“We are confident but at the same time we also feel humble because Real Madrid does have a certain feeling with finals.

“They are used to winning finals, we on the other hand have lost quite a number of finals, so perhaps it’s a good match in that sense.

“We’re going to try and overturn our record in history.”

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