Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Veteran Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid will have “special” personal significance as he approaches the end of his storied career.
A world champion with Italy in 2006 and eight-time Serie A winner with Juventus, Buffon finished on the losing side in his two previous Champions League finals in 2003 and 2015.
Now 39, he may never get a better opportunity to claim Europe’s biggest prize and he concedes it is a source of extra motivation.
“The emotions I feel might be different to any other guy who’s younger, like Dani (Alves),” said Buffon, gesturing to his team-mate, who was sitting beside him at Friday’s pre-game press conference in Cardiff.
“Dani has already won this competition and he has four or five years ahead in his career. I have to rule out this possibility, so yes, it will be much more special for me.
“I still feel like a young boy, even though I’m 39 years old. Tomorrow’s match is very important to me.
“I’ve played for Juventus for many, many years. I’ve got back more than I gave. It would be the perfect finale. And people like fairytales.”
One of Buffon’s chief responsibilities at the Principality Stadium will be keeping out Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who is chasing a fourth success in the competition and third in four years.
Ronaldo also dreams of equalling his great rival Lionel Messi’s tally of five Ballons d’Or and Buffon dismissed suggestions he might pip the pair to the sport’s top individual prize.
“I know that reporters have to write reports about these things because it’s your job, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m not that conceited,” he said.
“I wouldn’t dream of putting myself on the same pedestal as Cristiano. We play different roles. My role is to defend and his is to attack.
“We are complete opposites. The only thing I can do is try and not concede goals. But he can determine much more the outcome of a match because of the role he plays and his history.
“I’m pleased the media see the game as a challenge between myself and Cristiano, but it’s not reality.
“As for the Ballon d’Or, it’s rewarding to hear it, but it’s not important now. All that matter is the match tomorrow.”
– President’s promise –
Alves was on the winning side when Barcelona defeated Buffon’s Juventus in the 2015 final in Berlin, but will line up alongside him against Madrid.