A footballing legend in his own right, Gianluigi Buffon is heading to the inevitable dusk of his glorious career. In a career that spanned over 24 years, the Italian has experienced it all – a World Cup win, a season in the second division and tons of domestic honours.
A recipient of numerous team and individual awards, Buffon is yet to feel the coveted Champions League trophy in his hands. The custodian has come close on three occasions but has failed to see off Juventus’s European campaign in style everytime.
At 41, this might be Buffon's final chance to win the Champions League. His contract with Paris Saint-Germain runs until the summer of 2019, but there is an option to extend it for one more year with the agreement of both parties.
Although the Italian has showed no signs of slowing down, it’s not given that he might be a starter next season. The 2018/19 Champions League could hence very well be his last shot at the trophy.
Buffon has had his share of heartbreaks on the European stage. Juventus conceded the title to Milan in the 2002-03 season after losing in a penalty shootout in the finals, with Buffon in goal. The Juventus custodian prevented Clarence Seedorf and Kakha Kaladze from scoring from the spot, only to watch Andriy Shevchenko eventually win it for Milan.
The Italian’s next showdown on the biggest stage came after 12 years, with Juventus taking on Barcelona in the finals. Goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar handed Barcelona a 3-1 win and Buffon’s wait for a European title continued.
Two years later, the Juventus goalkeeper watched Barcelona’s arch nemesis Real Madrid shatter his hopes of a Champions League trophy. Juventus were hammered 4-1 in the finals with Cristiano Ronaldo stealing the show with a brace.
Last season, it was again the Los Blancos outfit that ended Juventus’s European campaign, thanks to a late, dramatic penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Buffon has previously suggested that PSG’s sporting project can’t guarantee immediate success and Barcelona are favourites to dethrone Real Madrid this season. He also admitted that stepping into a Champions League fixture with Neymar on the side-lines could be ‘dangerous’ for PSG.
The warrior that he is, the veteran will be looking to make the most of this potentially last shot at European glory. However, if there is one player who can defy the odds here, it has to be Buffon.