Buffon is the best Italian goalkeeper: Zoff

Rome, March 12 (IANS) Italian football legend Dino Zoff is glad he was “beaten by the best” after another goalkeeping icon, Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon surpassed his Serie A record for time played without conceding a goal.

The 1982 FIFA World Cup winner now has only the third longest top flight clean sheet streak at 903 minutes with Juventus, as Buffon on Friday took his run to 926 minutes in Juventus’ 1-0 win over Sassuolo.

With four minutes against Torino next week, Buffon will break the all-time record set by Sebastiano Rossi at AC Milan in 1994.

“I was sure it would happen sooner or later and Buffon has the most credentials. He is the best, superior to Rossi too. His secret is that he never rested on his laurels or his natural aptitude, instead working very hard to improve,” Zoff was quoted as saying by football-italia.net on Saturday.

“Buffon’s record is also that of Juventus, because Gigi knows that if your teammates allow five shots on target, you can save four, but the fifth will probably go in,” Zoff told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“It’s not an issue of the times having changed, but rather the strength of the team you are playing with. This Juve can win its fifth consecutive title, a stratospheric achievement.”

Zoff hung up his gloves at the age of 41 and says Buffon, 38, could also play at the top level in his 40s.

“I wouldn’t guarantee it, but physically he can do it. Perhaps it’s true that he is better now than a few years ago, but those are periods of form that do not depend solely on age,” the 74-year-old Zoff said.

“What reminds me of myself in Buffon is the way he ‘thinks’ in goal. You can use the time back there to ‘study’ the opposition in a more detached manner.”

“Of course, you can’t let yourself get distracted by not doing anything for long periods. When I was playing, I’d do a running commentary in my head to not run the risk of getting distracted,” he added.

“People say he’s a leader like me, but in a much less silent fashion. I say that what makes the difference is how much and in what way you talk in the locker room. I did it too, of course respecting the rules of my role.”

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