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Buffon hailed after 500th Juventus appearance

Published: Wednesday 29 October 2014, 20.46CET
After Gianluigi Buffon made his 500th appearance for Juventus, we look at his manifold honours and hear from the likes of Iker Casillas, Dino Zoff and Walter Zenga.
by Roberta Radaelli
from Milan

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Published: Wednesday 29 October 2014, 20.46CET

Buffon hailed after 500th Juventus appearance

After Gianluigi Buffon made his 500th appearance for Juventus, we look at his manifold honours and hear from the likes of Iker Casillas, Dino Zoff and Walter Zenga.

Gianluigi Buffon reached another milestone when he made his 500th appearance for Juventus in the Old Lady's Serie A encounter with Genoa CFC on Wednesday.

Juve paid a world-record fee for a goalkeeper when signing him from Parma FC in 2001. Now only Alessandro Del Piero, Gaetano Scirea and Giuseppe Furino have played more games for the Bianconeri than the 36-year-old Italy captain.

Perhaps he was always destined for greatness having, on his Serie A debut for Parma aged 17, kept a clean sheet against an AC Milan side containing George Weah and Roberto Baggio.

Oddly, the first league goal he conceded was against Juve, with whom he was to win five Scudetti and reach the 2003 UEFA Champions League final. And in another twist of fate, Genoa were the club he supported as a boy and on Wednesday they featured in their starting XI one of his possible long-term successors for Italy, Mattia Perin.

UEFA.com hears what others have to say about one of the great goalkeepers of the modern era and Italy's most-capped player, one of only three men to play at five FIFA World Cups and the record holder for both Azzurri and Serie A clean sheets.

Watch: 1999 UEFA Cup final

Buffon's honours
With Parma: UEFA Cup (1998/99), Coppa Italia (1998/99)
With Juventus: Serie A (five times), Serie B (2006/07)
With Italy: FIFA World Cup (2006), UEFA European Under-21 Championship (1996)
Individual (UEFA): UEFA Club Footballer of the Year & Best Goalkeeper (2002/03), UEFA.com Users' Team of the Year (2003, 2004, 2006), UEFA EURO Team of the Tournament (2008, 2012)
Individual (other): Lev Yashin Award, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (2006)

Tributes:
Iker Casillas, UEFA EURO 2012 final opponent
He is a benchmark for me, and for every keeper of my generation. When I started playing, I had a dream – I dreamed of becoming like him, and every time I play against him it's a real pleasure.

Dino Zoff, coached Buffon for Italy
Our common adventure with Juve and Italy makes me feel close to Buffon, who is for sure the best of all my successors. It is not possible to make a comparison between two generations so far apart, but Juventus are definitely in good hands.

Aldo Spinelli, AS Livorno Calcio president, after Juve beat the Amaranto 2-0 in 2009
I have never, ever seen anything like that in my whole life. Buffon is by far the greatest keeper of all time – players like him or Maradona are a one-off. He saved everything tonight, everything. We shot from every single angle and he was always there to make a save.

©Getty Images

Buffon and Casillas: UEFA EURO 2012 final

Walter Zenga, former Italy goalkeeper
Well, I have been voted the best keeper in the world three times, but Gigi is stronger than me and I give him first position. He is a complete player, but personal qualities are also important and he has them in abundance. He never hides; he also played in Serie B. I wouldn't be surprised if he was still playing at 45.

Emiliano Viviano, UC Sampdoria keeper
At some point someone started saying that Buffon was too old. But today he is considered like a saint again. I say that Buffon comes from another planet. We find a player like him once every 40 years, maybe. It's the strength, the continuity that counts, and he has been playing for more than 15 years.

Christian Abbiati, 2003 UEFA Champions League final opponent
Buffon is the strongest goalkeeper in the world. You could say he is the Messi of keepers.

Last updated: 05/12/14 12.54CET

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