Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says that Andrea Pirlo is as good as Lionel Messi, but says his team-mate does not get as much recognition because he does not score as much.
Messi has hit 91 goals during a record-breaking 2012, and while the Italy international praised the Barcelona legend, he believes Pirlo has similar abilities.
“He's a once in a generation player. I think it's unlikely that any human being again will repeat the numbers that Messi is getting,” Buffon told Sport Mediaset.
“But he is a striker, so numbers are on his side. I think Andrea Pirlo has the same sort of quality.
“He does not have to envy anyone, but in the world of football, awards go to those who score goals.”
The Juve captain also said his own recent success makes him believe he can play until he is at least 37-years-old, and admitted that last season's success had given him added confidence in his abilities.
"I'm 34 and I do not feel old but mature," he said.
"I know where I can go and I think I can play at least three more years at the highest level."
Buffon led Juventus to a domestic double last term, winning the Serie A title and Super Cup, before captaining the Italian national team to the European Championship final, eventually losing out 4-0 to Spain.
"2012 was a year full of sporting satisfaction, personal and otherwise," he added.
"It was a year that I will remember for a long time. We were able to do something memorable thanks to hard work and sweat as well as the good fortune of being led by a great coach.
"No one expected we were able to get to the final, we were not even remotely favorites."