Juventus
    19.11.2015 15:42 - in: Serie A S

    Buffon: "Debut my greatest memory of all"

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    Gianluigi Buffon made his professional debut on 19 November 1995 for Parma against Milan. Juve’s legendary skipper looks back at that unforgettable day 20 years ago

    Gianluigi Buffon, at the tender age of 17, made his first appearance as a professional for Parma against Milan on 19 November 2015.

    Twenty years later, the legendary goalkeeper, now of course the captain and icon of Juventus, may well line up for the Bianconeri on Saturday evening to face the same opposition almost 20 years ago to the day.

    A knock to the right flexor muscle sustained against Romania while on international duty during the week had threatened to spoil Buffon’s remarkable historical timing yet the 37-year old is confident that he will be there at Juventus Stadium on Saturday night to complete the story.

    Speaking to Sky and Mediaset in a special 20th anniversary interview to be aired over the next 24 hours, he began: “I’m feeling fine. I felt a slight twinge that perhaps should have kept me out of action for four or five days but after my medical check, that appears not to be the case. I’m confident I’ll play.”

    “This match against Milan, like all of the others between now and Christmas will have a big say in the fate of our campaign. We’re lucky that there are still so many points to play for but that also carries great responsibility.” 

     

    Juve indeed do have their destinies in their own hands, giving Buffon’s position now an air of similarity to the one he occupied 20 years ago when he was thrown into the first team and the international spotlight by then Parma manager Nevio Scala.

    As has been the case throughout his stellar career, Gigi seized the opportunity presented to him and not without a touch of his trademark self-belief.

    “I remember every last detail of the day itself, particularly the feelings of excitement and joy I had before kick-off that completely overrode any of the nerves or tension. 

    "I turned to Alessandro Melli and said, I hope Milan get a penalty so I can save it." 

    Gianluigi Buffon 19/11/2015

    “On the way to the stadium I noticed that everyone on the coach was surprised to see me there and maybe a little worried that I’d be starting the match. That’s why I turned to (team-mate) Alessandro Melli and said, “I hope Milan get a penalty today so I can save it.”

    “I knew that my performances in training in the week leading up to the Milan game would convince Scala to pick me.”

    And convince Scala they did as the ex-Parma, Dortmund and Besiktas coach approached the young Buffon after training on the eve of the encounter with a test of his resolve.

    “It was natural that he had doubts in his mind over my age and lack of experience so he came to me with a little smile on his face and he asked me: “If I put you in my starting XI tomorrow, would you be up to it?”

    “I knew he was testing my reaction and so I replied: “Of course boss, if I wasn’t, what would I be doing here?” A confident comeback like that would reassure anyone.”

    From then on, there was no looking back for Buffon and his appearance at the Stadio Tardini that night would be the catalyst for a remarkable two decades of success, silverware and critical acclaim.

    “That match fast-tracked me to the top. If I had played badly I know I still would have become a top goalkeeper but everything I went on to achieve maybe would have happened three or four years later than they actually did.”

    And as for a certain summer’s night in Berlin in 2006?

    “Such is the strength of the emotion before matches as big as that, you never have the chance to soak it in beforehand.

    “To have the opportunity to win the World Cup is the biggest goal you can have in your career and as a result, the feelings that it creates are unrivalled, I was completely overwhelmed at the final whistle. But, of course, if you lose, a final like that can also produce the complete opposite.”

    As another emotionally charged evening approaches, we can be sure that Juve’s fate is once more in the safest of hands.

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