I, like a lot of other people, were quite curious as to how the small details of Gianluigi Buffon’s return to Juventus would end up going. Not the fact that he’s taking a pay cut or is not going to be the club’s starter despite being the most-accomplished goalkeeper there is in the game, but the details that would have taken place after Buffon’s return to Juventus became official.
As it turns out, Buffon got an offer to have at least two of his teammates, Giorgio Chiellini and Wojciech Szczesny, make things seem a lot like Juve’s legendary goalkeeper never left.
I’ll let San Gigi take it from here ...
“The first-choice goalkeeper is Tek (Szczesny) and the captain is Giorgio (Chiellini). I thank them both because they offered me the number one and the captain’s armband, but I’m not here to take anything away from my teammates, but to give my contribution. I’m ready for when there will be an opportunity to help the team.”
You’re reading that right. Wojciech Szczesny, the man who was Buffon’s backup when he was last a Juventus player, offered to hand the No. 1 jersey back to the man who will now be his back. And, to take it another step further, Giorgio Chiellini, one of the mainstays alongside Buffon over the past 10-12 years, offered to give the captain’s armband back to the man who was captain before he was.
Essentially, outside of the fact that Szczesny is now the starting goalkeeper, the both of them wanted it to look like Buffon hadn’t even left for Paris Saint-Germain a little over a year ago. But, Buffon being the class man that he, is declined in only a way he can.
What a guy, right?
Yeah, he’s pretty great.
But what about that unorthodox squad number, Gigi?
“My number? I thought of 77, because it represents a bit my story. I wore it in Parma and it brought me luck, because then I went to Juve, so I like it very much.”
Ah, a throwback to the Parma days, one where Buffon first became the goalkeeper who wowed so many fans around Italy and Europe even before he celebrated his 20th birthday. While it’s not the first squad number he had at Parma, Buffon wore the No. 77 during one of the most memorable stretches at the club during the early 2000s — a clear sign as to why it means so much to Buffon even though we’re nearly two decades removed from it.
And, let’s face it, as much as Juventus likes to be the club where they don’t have senior squad regulars wearing numbers in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s, it’s a little understandable as to why they let Buffon pretty much go with whatever number he wanted to wear. It’s his last season, after all, and if he can’t wear No. 1, Juve might as well let Buffon go with something else that is rather sentimental to him.