Gianluigi Buffon played his first match in Serie A on November 19, 1995 at the age of 17 years and 295 days in a 0-0 draw between Parma and AC Milan, fast forward 8995 days and Gianluigi Buffon played his 648th match in Serie A against Torino becoming the all time appearance holder in the competition.
Almost 25 years have passed since his first clean sheet and Buffon shows no signs of slowing down after signing a one-year extension with Juventus.
He is Juventus’ record Serie A appearance holder with 480 matches played for the Bianconeri, and he overtook Paolo Maldini in the Italian top flight rankings as he started the 200th Derby della Mole.
“I’ll be here [at Juventus] until I’m at least 43,” Buffon told Sky Sport Italia, “though since I turned 40 I’ve been taking things month-by-month.
“I’ll keep looking at the situation so as to always be ready to step back when the main element is missing, which is the ability to play at the top level.
“Once I feel I’ve gotten to that point, I’ll step aside. As long as I’m motivated and in good shape, it’s only right that I keep playing because there’s nothing that makes me happier than playing football matches.”
Buffon is the third-oldest player that managed to play a Serie A game in the three points era, behind only Marco Ballotta (44 years, 38 days) and Francesco Antonioli (42 years, 235 days).
“He’s a legend,” his coach Maurizio Sarri said after the win over Torino. “No words needed, just applause. That’s how we welcomed him in the changing room today, no words needed. Look at his numbers, he is a legend.”
You can’t really argue with that. He’s won more Scudetti than any other player – nine. He has the longest streak without conceding – 974 minutes – and he has kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in Serie A during the three points era – 285.
In December 2019, Buffon came up against Stefano Turati, a goalkeeper 18 years and 87 days younger than him which is the biggest age difference between two starting goalkeepers in a single Serie A match in the three points for a win era.
Not many would have imagined that the 17-year-old who turned out for Parma would become one of the games greats. A leader, a winner, a talisman, who has given his life to football.
A World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, Buffon is of the only four players to take part in five editions of the tournament, alongside Antonio Carbajal, Rafael Marquez, and Lothar Matthaus, and is of course the record appearance maker for his country, amassing 176 caps.
Yet with such a trophy laden career… there is one that has, so far, gotten away.
“The Champions League is something that’s always floating around my head,” Buffon said. “I came so close to [winning] it so many times that not grabbing the trophy by its big ears has become a regret of mine.”