When it comes to writing pretty much anything about Gianluigi Buffon, it means just a little bit more to me. It doesn't matter if it comes to his legendary status at Juventus or for Italy, Buffon is Buffon and therefore he deserve the best of the best.
On what seemed like just another night in Attard at the Ta'Qali National Stadium, there was a World Cup qualifier between Italy and Malta. Two nations on different ends of the qualifying spectrum, but pitted against one another for 90 minutes in the second game of the latest and not-so-greatest international break.
But this wasn't just a "normal" game for our beloved San Gigi. No, no. His long, glorious treck up Italy's all-time appearance list reached another milestone. Buffon, one of the greatest goalkeepers ever is now level in second place on the all-time list with one of the best defenders our generation has ever seen, Paolo Maldini, with 126 caps. Buffon has amassed 106 of those caps since moving to Juventus over a decade ago.
And the special night had a special kind of twist — especially in the first half.
Buffon not only gave away a penalty after a rough challenge inside the box, but he then saved it a few moments later. Sure, it wasn't the best penalty ever taken, but it kept Italy ahead, kept the clean sheet intact, and kept Malta from getting any kind of momentum going again. And what goalkeeper doesn't like a clean sheet? Let's be honest, people.
Next stop for Buffon on the cap list: Italy's top dog, Fabio Cannavaro, at 136 appearances.
"I hope my natural course will be to reach that level. If I keep physically and psychologically sound, then I'd hope to get even more than that. I say that for a sportsman after the age of 30, you become like a dog — each year is worth seven. I talk fully aware of what I am and what I can do. Around two or three years ago I probably wouldn't have said this, but now I can say it with conviction. ...We met in Milan when we played Denmark and Maldini said I'll reach about 150. It was optimistic, but I don't know, if God wills and I keep in good shape, then it is an objective I could reach."
We're all hoping you do, San Gigi. There truly is nobody like you, so feel free to play as long as you want and accumulate as many caps as possible in the process. You won't find me complaining about it. Nope, not one bit.