Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has boldly claimed he could better his Serie A record for minutes without conceding.
Buffon conceded for the first time in 11 league matches during the Turin derby on Sunday, capping the record at 973 minutes having already surpassed Sebastiano Rossi’s previous mark of 929 in the fourth minute of the game.
But the 38-year-old, who wrote a bizarre open letter to his goal to mark the occasion, has set his sights going even longer without conceding, with Torino striker Andrea Belotti’s 48th-minute penalty in the 4-1 win at Stadio Olimpico his new starting point.
“I think I can improve my unbeaten record in Serie A, which I shared with Juventus and a fantastic group of lads,” he said.
“Now we start again and I’m already at 42 minutes!”
Buffon is part of the Italy squad preparing to face Spain on Thursday, which could pit him against another veteran goalkeeper in the form of Porto’s Iker Casillas, whose place in the national team has come into question of late.
However, Buffon feels Casillas must have the determination to prove his critics wrong if he is to prevent Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea from becoming Spain’s starter ahead of Euro 2016.
“In my view the word ‘respect’ is very important and can have many different readings,” he added. “Here we are talking only about football and whether we are liked or not liked by a fan, coach, team-mate or journalist.
“I hope there is respect for me in Italy, just as I am sure there is for Iker in Spain. Of course there are moments in a career that are highs and others lows, but if a professional has always given stratospheric performances has a slight dip then people immediately call it a crisis.
“I don’t see that as a lack of respect. I see it as motivation, which at our age is the thing that needs to keep us alive and kicking, the fact someone doubts us and we have to change their minds. It’s the joy of this sport!
“I have said that if I deserve to be called up and played, then I do, if not, then I don’t. There is a rule in sport, which is that the coach makes his decisions to win, not for any other reason. He wouldn’t pick a player if he didn’t think he was the best option to win.”