The following is a guest post from Mayowa Koleosho – You can follow him on Twitter
Calciopoli still rears its ugly head in Serie A nowadays. After Juventus beat Roma 3-2 last October in a highly contentious game, a war of words erupted between Romanista and Juventini, with allegations that Juventus were back to their cheating ways.
The scandal that saw Juventus and some other Italian clubs penalized for being involved in activities that swayed officials to call games in their favor might have happened over 8 years ago, yet the wounds apparently aren’t fully healed. Of all the teams involved, none was penalized more than Juventus, who were relegated to the Serie B and stripped of two titles.
At the time, dark clouds loomed over Turin, and for a while, it looked like it just might be the permanent weather forecast. A few good men, thought otherwise, one of whom happened to be one of the heroes of Italy’s World Cup winning side.
Gianluigi Buffon, arguably the best goal keeper in the world at that point in time, could have jumped ship and would probably have been justified in doing so. Many of the club’s biggest names had departed, so who could have questioned such a valuable asset for wanting to jump a sinking ship?
Instead Buffon, in an incredible of show of loyalty, remained with Juventus, plying his trade in a lower league, showing that no man was bigger than the club.
According to him, “if Juve had to go to B, then I was going to with them. I didn’t really need to think about it. Juve helped me to become a world champion, therefore I owed them a huge debt.” Strong words, coming from a man, who sometimes seems larger than life between the goal.
Buffon alongside fellow club legends Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezequet and Pavel Nedved did the unthinkable by staying. Even more interesting was the fact this was coming off a World Cup win, an event where Buffon’s class and ability was constantly on display. Without a doubt, if he had expressed the desire to leave, Juventus would have received offers from the major players in the footballing world.
Due to his uncommon loyalty, Gigi as he is fondly called, is one of the most beloved players in Italy and the world. In a league and country where football is the equivalent of religion, Buffon is one of the few players that can go into opposing arenas and stadiums and get applauded by other team’s fans. His passion for the game is always on display, whether it’s pumping up his team from the goal mouth, or putting up incredible feats to deny opponents.
On a team with some of the most well-known names in football currently, none symbolizes Juventus better than the man in goal. At 37, whilst most players see not only their abilities and stature diminish, Buffon’s seems to be flourishing even more.
As the war of words erupted between Roma and Juventus back in October, Gigi intervened with timely words, to rise above the fray and allow calmer heads prevail. He knows how bad Calciopoli hurt the league, he has paid for it by sacrificing both his time and career to see that his beloved Juventus rise again to prominence, and rise they have.
Juventus is on pace to win a treble this season. This will be their fourth scudetto in a row and are odds on favorites to repeat next year.
Many factors and factions have had a hand in this current team’s success. Many names can fill these pages, deserving of mentions for the work put in to make this team what it is right now. None may be as deserving or as important as the man between the goal. The icon of Turin – Gianluigi Buffon.