Gianluigi Buffon ended his 17-year Juventus career as they crowned a seventh straight Italian title with a 2-1 win over relegated Verona yesterday. The 40-year-old keeper was substituted just after the hour, and was in tears as he embraced his team-mates while the crowd gave him a standing ovation. He did a lap of honour while the match continued in Turin, accepting gifts and congratulations from fans.
Daniele Rugani and Miralem Pjanic scored for Juve in a comfortable win. Alessio Cerci pulled a goal back after Buffon had been replaced by Carlo Pinsoglio, but Verona rarely threatened to ruin the send-off at the Allianz Stadium.
Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner – also playing his final game for Juventus – could have increased the advantage, but his late penalty was excellently saved by Nicolas Andrade.
Buffon, who is considering offers for new roles both on and off the pitch, was cheered every time he touched of the ball by the home supporters – and for long periods when he was nowhere near it.
Before kick-off, the Italian was greeted onto the pitch with a banner bearing his face. He then mingled with fans, accepting congratulations and gifts from the Curva Sud. His team-mates wore the hashtag #un1co on their sleeves, pointing to the social media tributes that have flowed since he confirmed the end of his Juventus career on Thursday.
Buffon’s one moment of concern came when Douglas Costa’s loose pass let Ryder Matos in on goal. The goalkeeper rushed out and appeared to collide with the Brazilian as the ball was touched beyond him – but referee Ricardo Pinzani decided against awarding a penalty or reviewing the incident via the video assistant referee.
His latest success takes his tally of Serie A titles to nine.
He also has one from Italy’s second tier after he remained with the Turin side in the wake of their enforced relegation over the match-fixing scandal of 2006. The previous best was eight won by Giovanni Ferrari with Juventus, Inter Milan and Bologna between 1930 and 1941. Buffon is rumoured to have been offered a playing deal with French champions Paris St-Germain, as well as an off-field role with Juventus.