Read Gianluigi Buffon's love letter to the goal he 'loves'
Emotional Italian pens overwrought tribute to the goal he defends after breaking Serie A record
Goalkeepers have always been a little different from the rest of their teammates. Eccentric, idiosyncratic and in some cases, downright batty, and now Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon has taken things to a new level - by writing a love letter to his goal.
Better known for pulling off saves during a brilliant career for Juventus and Italy, the 38-year-old veteran gloveman penned an overwrought missive to his posts after he broke the Serie A record for consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.
Buffon set the new record on Sunday during the Turin derby between Juventus and Torino. He needed just three minutes to surpass the previous best of 929 minutes, established by Milan goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi in 1994.
Torino did eventually get the ball past Buffon when Andrea Belotti scored a penalty three minutes into the second-half - the first time the Juventus keeper had conceded a goal since 10 January, a run of 11 games and 974 minutes of football.
Buffon's brilliance in goal this year has been a major factor in Juventus's rise to the top of Serie A after a slow start to the season when injury had deprived the reigning champions of several key players.
Buffon, a midfielder until he moved to goalkeeper aged 12, marked his record with a letter to his goal that he published on social media on Monday, reports The Independent, and which was subsequently translated into English by BT Sport football correspondent James Horncastle.
And Buffon, one of the most popular and respected players in European football, also sent messages of gratitude to his teammates, adds the paper, explaining that "no record belongs to just one person and there are no number ones outside of a group". Among those he thanked were defender Leonardo Bonucci, "for his head-held-high personality, always at the service of the team", and Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic, "the first to attack and always the first to defend".
Buffon's letter to his goal:
I was 12 when I turned my back on you, denying my past to guarantee you a safe future.
I went with my heart.
I went with my instinct.
But the day I stopped looking you in the face is also the day that I started to love you.
To protect you.
To be your first and last line of defence.
I promised myself that I would do everything not to see your face again. Or that I would do it as little as possible. It was painful every time I did, turning round and realising I had disappointed you.
Again. And again.
We have always been opposites yet we are complementary, like the sun and the moon. Forced to live side by side without being able to touch. Team-mates for life, a life in which we are denied all contact.
More than 25 years ago I made my vow: I swore to protect you. Look after you. A shield against all your enemies. I’ve always thought about your welfare, putting it first even ahead of my own.
I was 12 when I turned my back on my goal. And I will keep doing it as long as my legs, my head and my heart will allow.