TURIN – Footballers usually throw their jersey to fans at the final whistle, but Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon stunned one supporter by giving him his shorts after Wednesday’s Champions League draw against Barcelona.
The 39-year-old Buffon was competing for the first time since his emotional international retirement after Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.
Barcelona advanced to the last 16 after the 0-0 draw in Turin, but Juventus remain second in the group and can secure their qualification with victory at Olympiakos on December 5.
An exuberant Buffon ran to hug Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic after the game following a social media exchange on the eve of the game, when the Croatian had said he would love to tell the Italian goalkeeping great to take his place in the 2018 World Cup.
After embracing Rakitic, Buffon then pulled off his orange shorts and ran towards the tunnel in his Y-fronts to the cheers of the delighted crowd.
“This is only a point tonight, but it’s a good point,” Buffon later Tweeted. “It’s always a pleasure and an honour to play against great champions, like Ivan Rakitic.”
Buffon – who earned a record 175 caps for Italy over 20 years – had been targeting a record sixth World Cup appearance in Russia.
He announced his international retirement after the 1-0 playoff defeat to Sweden, which saw Italy miss the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.
Playing likely his final season with Juventus, Buffon has one final ambition: to win the Champions League, after finishing runner-up twice in the past three years.