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UEFA Champions League

Del Piero: Even without the Champions League, Buffon is the greatest

12:37 GMT+4 03/04/2018
Gianluigi Buffon Juventus
The Juventus goalkeeper may have lost two finals in three seasons but that should not affect his standing as the game's foremost custodian

Alessandro Del Piero hopes his former Juventus team-mate Gianluigi Buffon can finally win the Champions League this season before retiring but states that even without that trophy on his CV he will always be regarded as a legend.

Buffon is tipped to hang up his gloves at the end of the season having missed out on European football’s top prize every year since joining Juve in 2001.

The 40-year-old goalkeeper has lost three finals with the Bianconeri including two in the last three seasons – one each against Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Del Piero, who won the Champions League with Juve in 1996, says Buffon remains the best goalkeeper in the world and believes nobody would begrudge the World Cup winner the European title.  

“It’s the thing that everybody’s hoping now,” Del Piero told Goal in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in his role as ambassador for the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour Presented by Heineken. “It’s the kind of trophy that he deserves. He’s lost two finals in three years so it’s pretty tough.

“But let me say also that even if he doesn’t win for me and for all the fans he is still the best goalkeeper in the world.

“It would change a lot for him I guess but not a lot from the perspective of the people who already look at him as a legend.”

Despite their long and storied past, Juventus have only emerged victorious in the European Cup and Champions League twice down throughout the years. The first title came amid the tragedy of the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 and the second followed 11 years later in a penalty shootout defeat of Ajax.

Del Piero is at a loss to explain the dearth of top European titles in the Juve trophy cabinet but suggests they have been without their fair share of fortune having lost seven finals in total.

“Juventus don’t have a lot of luck with this cup because we reached the final many times and we won two,” he said. “And one of the two no Juve fans want to remember because it was ‘85. And of course ‘96 was the best for many reasons.

“It’s not easy to explain. Juve have got to the final two times in three years. They lost the other year at 94 minutes against Bayern in the qualification [last 16]. It’s tough to understand what’s going on.

“When I was playing we reached the final more than one time so it’s controversial the situation. But let’s say because of the number of the finals, because Juve is still a strong, strong club, we deserve a little bit more.

“But what can you do? This is football and this is how it goes. They just need to put more effort in and let’s see what happens this year.”

Alessandro Del Piero is an ambassador for the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour Presented by Heineken®. In 2018 the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour Presented by Heineken® will visit six markets across four different continents providing fans outside of Europe with the opportunity to experience a sense of the film like drama of the events.