It truly is the end of an era, not just for Juventus, but for Italian football in general as legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon ended his stint with the club that has just recently won a seventh straight Serie A title.
The 40-year-old’s decision to call time on a long and very successful career with Juventus means that his 17 year association with the club has come to an end, and with such a glittering trophy haul to his name, he will undoubtedly go down as one of greatest players to have ever graced Serie A.
Buffon is seemingly evergreen, with any talk of retirement being dispelled, and whichever team is lucky enough to acquire his services for next season will find themselves with a very useful addition to their ranks.
The former Italian international who signed from Parma in 2001 for a fee that at the time was the most that Juventus had paid for a player (a record that would not be broken until they signed Gonzalo Higuain in 2016 from Napoli) will without question go down as one of Serie A’s greatest ever players.
But who else has been lucky enough to join this select band of footballers? The 1980s saw Michel Platini light up the stage for Juventus as he delivered two Scudetto for the Turin outfit, along with also winning a European Cup and Coppa Italia.
Later in that decade, it was Milan clubs that ruled the roost. Inter Milan had German internationals Jurgen Klinsmann and Andreas Brehme, two players who just a couple of years later would go on to win the 1990 World Cup on Italian soil.
Meanwhile, A.C. Milan had the Dutch trio of Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten. In all fairness, it is probably harsh just to single out these three players from what was an exceptional footballing side.
Before Real Madrid’s back-to-back Champions League wins in 2016 and 2017, the red half of Milan were the last club to win successive versions of Europe’s premier club competition, a feat they achieved back in 1989 and 1990, with wins over Steaua Bucharest and Benfica, respectively.
Those trophies came under the tutelage of Arrigo Sacchi. A year later, he would take the Italian national job and give the reigns to future England boss Fabio Capello, and he would climb the European summit in 1994 when Milan crushed Barcelona’s ‘Dream Team’ in the final by four goals to nil.
The 1990s saw Italy Serie A rule the roost not just on the pitch but off it also. With the Premier League still in its embryonic years, Italy’s top division was deemed not only the greatest league in the world but also the toughest.
But for every good defense that was formed, there were some incredible strikers who did their best to try and break them on a weekly basis. That decade had an embarrassment of riches as far as attacking talent was concerned.
Who can forget the likes of Guiseppe Signori, who finished top of the scoring charts on three different occasions, or the Liberian wonder that was George Weah, who is arguably best remembered for his goal against Verona where he ran the length of the pitch before rifling home.
Another striker who had a huge presence on Italian football was none other than Gabriel Batistuta. The Argentinian international seemingly tormented defenses on a weekly basis, first with Fiorentina before moving onto Roma and landing an Italian league title that his talents deserved.
Another player who landed the league titles befitting his talents was that of Zinedine Zidane. The former French international was likened to compatriot Michel Platini upon arrival, and he certainly lived up to the hype as he delivered two Scudetto for the Italian giants.
While of course who can forget Brazilian forward Ronaldo, who had a stint at the San Siro with Inter Milan. He may not have quite matched the expectations that were set after his arrival from Barcelona due to an injury-plagued stint.
But when he did play, he was an electrifying presence on the field, and although he could not help Inter Milan deliver an Italian league title, he did at least help them with continental success in the way of a UEFA Cup win.
Serie A does not perhaps have the level of superstars it once had, with the money that is offered in England and Spain acting as more of a pull, but with the likes of Dries Mertens, Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Icardi plying their trade on Italian shores, it is fair to say the competition is still in very good health and should remain so for a long time to come.