Football, as it has done on so many occasions has once again said goodbye to some players. Although, it has done that to great players in the past like Gerrard, Beckham, Ronaldo, Pele, Zidane, Maradona, Platini etc. This one feels different. Maybe it because they have said their goodbyes to their respective clubs but haven’t given a hint of hanging up their boots yet.
They are great names known all over the world, even the remote villages with no access to the internet. They are known for how they dominated football, the passion and commitment with which they played. They are also known for how they were an inspiration to others. They are Gialungui Buffon of Italy and Juventus and Andres Iniesta of Spain and Barcelona. As we let them decide on what is next, let’s look at what they did for their respective clubs.
Buffon for Juventus.
Gialungui Buffon born on 28th January 1978. He transferred from Parma to Juventus in 2001 for a world record fee for a goalkeeper (€52m) and that is when his legendary story began. It has span a period of 17 years good years. He has made 509 appearances for the club. During that period he has been a runner up for the Ballon d’Or once in 2006 and was included in the FIFPro World XI thrice. He was the first goalkeeper ever to win the Serie A footballer of the year award. He has won the Serie A goalkeeper of the year honor a record 12 times.
Buffon is the first ever to win the Golden Foot award and has won the IFFHS Worlds Best Goalkeeper a record 12 times alongside Iker Casillas. He was again named the best goalkeeper of the decade, past 25 years and the 21st century. He is one of only 25 players to play at least 1000 matches. Buffon has also won 9 Serie A titles, 6 Supercoppa Italiana, 5 Coppa Italia, 1 World Cup, 1UEFA Cup and 1 Serie B making a total 23 trophies.
Buffon holds the honor for being the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets in Serie A. Buffon is the most capped player in the history of the Italian national team. He holds the record with 176 appearances. The goalkeeper has placed 3rd, 4th, and 6th in the UEFA Best player in Europe award. He has been named in the UEFA Champions league team of the season 2 times, Serie A team of the year 5 times and other valuable awards.
Iniesta for Barcelona.
Andres Iniesta, a Spanish international born 11th May 1984 has spent all his professional career playing for Barcelona. He started his football career from the famous La Masia academy of Barcelona and progressed quickly through the ranks. The la masia product officially made his debut for Barcelona in 2002 aged 18.
Iniesta has made 442 appearances for Barcelona with his last one against Real Sociedad yesterday. He has won 9 La Liga titles, 6 Copa del Rey, 7 Supercopa de Espana, 4 UEFA Champions league. He has also won 3 UEFA Super Cup, 3 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 FIFA World Cup, 2 UEFA Championships making an unprecedented 35 trophies.
The midfielder has been named in the UEFA Euro team of the tournament 2 times, FIFA FIFPro World XI 9 times and UEFA team of the year 6 times. Iniesta has won La Liga best attacking midfielder 4 times, la liga best Spanish player once, Ballon D’or 2nd place, 3rd place and 4th place all once. The UEFA Euro player of the tournament (2012), FIFA Confederations Cup Silver Ball (2013), Golden Foot (2014) and a host of others are awards he has won in the game.
Buffon and Iniesta started their football journeys for their clubs one pace at a time never dreaming of fame or honors. And now they have it so much that it is overflowing. They are called super star, inventor, magician, master, mentor etc. The one that sticks and summarize everything is legend. Though Buffon and Iniesta have won a host of awards during their times with Juventus and Barcelona respectively, that is not what made them legends.
How they played, the passion, zeal, commitment and loyalty they added to their football that endeared them to their fans, players and pundits alike. And now that Juventus, Barcelona and possibly the giant screens have seen the last of them we weep. We weep because these names keep on dwindling. We weep because these eras keep on coming to an end.
It is funny to think that 20-25 years at the top level in football is a short period. But it is not, they were that good that we didn’t realize it will one day end or come to a close. We were marinated in the moments that we forgot to count the clock. And now the clock has ended, the alarm has sounded. As football says farewell to them, we fans and spectators say well done to them for dazzling us for years.
Whatever they decide next we say good luck to them. Though their names might not be mentioned as much as it is now, they can be rest assured that they will never be forgotten.
FYA SPORTS: Because you and I love Sports.
By: Fredrick Adehe.