Gianluigi Buffon set for 500th Juventus appearance against Genoa
Gianluigi Buffon will make his 500th appearance in a Juventus shirt when he takes to the field against Genoa on Wednesday night.
Thirteen years since joining the Bianconeri, Italy's No. 1 goalkeeper is preparing for a milestone reserved to a very fortunate few in Italy: Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi, Javier Zanetti and Giuseppe Bergomi achieved it while, of those still playing now, only Francesco Totti has appeared more times for one club -- Roma.
"It's a goal that very few get to realise," Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said at a news conference. "Gigi deserves it and I think he still has a lot more to give because he's got the enthusiasm of a young boy with the serenity and wisdom of a veteran. He's a veteran in football terms, but still young in life. Let's just see if I name him in the team."
Buffon, 36, has been a No. 1 choice for club and country for well over a decade so there is little doubt that he will start on Wednesday.
"It's an added bonus to have him in the side," Allegri continued. "Also in terms of his professionalism in the dressing room, it's great for the younger players to have people like him, [Andrea] Barzagli, [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Andrea] Pirlo around -- they are an example for anybody who is new here."
Buffon's long list of achievements -- the latest of three Serie A titles won in consecutive years under Antonio Conte have taken him to a total of five domestic titles, disregarding the two that were revoked during the "Calciopoli" scandal -- is impressive.
He was voted onto the FIFPro World XI twice, making the UEFA Team of the Year three times and earning the prestigious IFFHS Goalkeeper of the Year award no fewer than four times. The IFFHS also elected him the best goalkeeper of the 21st century in 2012.
Buffon made his Juve debut in a 4-0 win over Venezia in 2001, conceding his first goal three weeks later. His 100th game was a 2-1 win over Olympiakos in the Champions League in 2003 -- and he will be hoping that will be a good omen for a renewed meeting with the Greek side next Tuesday.
Game No. 200 also came on the top European stage, in a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League quarterfinals; Chelsea were the opponents for his 400th match in 2012, a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge in which Buffon showed he was still among the best in the business.
His 500th now comes against a club with English roots. Genoa Cricket and Football Club was founded by Englishmen on Sept. 7, 1893 and is one of the oldest clubs in Italian football, a suitable setting for Buffon's landmark appearance.