Despite being 42 years old and with over 1,000 career appearances to his name, Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon refuses to hang up his gloves.
Buffon made his Serie A debut for Parma at the age of 17, keeping a clean sheet in a 0–0 home draw against AC Milan in November 1995 and is still going strong 25 years later.
We’ve compiled an Xl of Buffon’s current and former team-mates who were born after he made his professional debut.
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma
Widely regarded as Buffon’s heir, Donnarumma made his international debut against France in September 2016, becoming the youngest goalkeeper to ever play for Italy aged 17 years and 189 days.
“A goalkeeper to follow me? At the moment the most interesting is Donnarumma,” Buffon told COPA90 in 2017.
“At a European level he’s the youngest and it’s normal that there’s curiosity surrounding him. He’s a lad with extraordinary skills.”
He became their No.1 after Buffon retired from international duty in 2018 and currently has 22 caps.
RB: Thilo Kehrer
Like Buffon, Kehrer joined PSG in 2018, but it’s fair to say they were at slightly different stages of their careers.
The Germany international is still with the French side but has only made another 11 league appearances since the goalkeeper’s departure in 2019.
CB: Matthijs de Ligt
Buffon had already gone to a World Cup and made over 100 senior appearances for Parma before De Ligt was born in August 1999.
The goalkeeper returned to Juventus for a second spell in 2019 and De Ligt followed him through the door a few days later.
Considering the 21-year age gap between the pair, we doubt they have too much in common off the pitch.
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CB: Martin Demiral
Having primarily played with the likes of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini during his first spell at Juventus, Buffon is now working alongside some younger defenders.
Demiral didn’t make his senior debut until February 2017, by which point Buffon had already won seven Serie A titles and three Italian Cups.
LB: Gianluca Frabotta
A relatively unknown name, Frabotta has spent the majority of his career in Serie C but made his Serie A debut for Juventus in August 2020.
Arthur joined Barcelona in 2018 and was initially regarded as the heir to Xavi, a player who made his senior debut three years after Buffon.
The Brazil international moved to Juventus in 2020 and will be hoping to learn from Buffon’s former team-mate Andrea Pirlo, who is now in charge of the club.
READ: Six quotes about Andrea Pirlo the manager: ‘Destined for greatness’
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur
A product of the Boca Juniors youth academy, Bentacur made his senior debut in April 2015 and became a Juventus player two years later.
“On my first day, Buffon received me in this incredible way. He surprised me, as he knew who I was, he knew my name,” Bentancur told Sport 890 in 2017. “He’s a phenomenon and always gives me advice. Buffon is on another level.”
RW: Federico Chiesa
Chiesa was born in October 1997, at a time when his father Enrico was team-mates with Buffon at Parma.
The winger then made his Serie A debut for Fiorentina against Buffon’s Juventus in 2016 before moving to the Allianz Stadium four years later.
“The first time I faced Chiesa, I was disoriented. It was my first time playing against the son of a former team-mate and I thought it might be time to retire,” Buffon told Eurosport in 2019.
“However, I’ve taken on a few now and consider it a gift from life, something to be happy about.”
1996-1999: Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram and Enrico Chiesa are teammates at Parma.
2018: Buffon plays against Thuram’s son, Marcus, in Ligue 1.
2020: Buffon plays with Chiesa’s son, Federico Chiesa, at Juventus.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 19, 2020
CAM: Christopher Nkunku
Nkunku joined local club PSG at the age of 13 and made his professional debut for the club in December 2015.
He failed to establish himself as a first-team regular and moved to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in 2019, where he has continued to impress.
LW: Kinglsey Coman
Coman joined Juventus in 2014 but famously scored against Buffon while on loan at Bayern Munich in 2015-16 before completing a permanent move to the Bundesliga side.
Despite only being 24 years old, he has already lifted the Champions League trophy that continues to elude Buffon.
READ: A brilliant XI of players not to win the Champions League: Buffon, Ronaldo…
ST: Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe’s senior debut came 20 years almost to the day after Buffon’s, becoming Monaco’s youngest-ever first-team player aged 16 years and 347 days.
The France international joined PSG in 2017 and built an excellent relationship with Buffon during their solitary season together.
“It’s only normal that Kylian, who is 20, thinks of me as a father figure or even a grandpa. But I think that’s nice,” Buffon told CNN in 2019.
“I’ve experienced so many wonderful things in my career. Firstly as a young, adolescent, cocky player who was surrounded by older players and my mission then was to be accepted by them.
“Then as a young man, and lastly as an older man who meets a young man who was just like me when I was the same age.
“This is all part of the difficulties of life, and you understand how different people’s opinions are, and by changing your point of view over time you see how things can be different. But I must say it’s all part of the rich fabric of life.
“And when I joke about with Kylian, we have a friendly rapport and it feels like we’re the same age. The way I see it, we have to find common ground and I have to act in a younger way and he has to think along the lines of someone slightly older perhaps.”
Subs: Alex Meret, Giovani Lo Celso, Weston McKennie, Dejan Kulusevski, Moussa Diaby, Timothy Weah, Moise Kean.
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