Gianluigi Buffon Breaks All-Time Serie A Appearance Record With Start Against Torino

Gianluigi Buffon
Juventus v SSC Napoli - Coppa Italia: Final | Marco Rosi/Getty Images

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has broken Serie A's all-time appearance record, playing his 648th game as a professional footballer in Italy's top flight against Torino on Saturday evening.

The Italy international is an undisputed legend of the game, cementing his place as one of - if not the - greatest goalkeeper in history during his illustrious career. The experienced shot-stopper has spent the entirety of his career in Italy, apart from one year in France with Paris Saint-Germain - with almost 20 of those seasons coming with the Old Lady.

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Buffon has broken the record for most Serie A appearances | FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/Getty Images

And against Torino on Saturday, Buffon claimed a long-standing record, previously set by Milan legend Paolo Maldini, making the most appearances in Serie A history in his 648th career match.

The 42-year-old long seemed destined to make the record his own, standing as Juve's number one goalkeeper for 17 glorious years. But as time began to catch up with him, and Wojciech Szczesny's shadow loomed large, his game time became rather more sporadic.

And the chances of catching Maldini in this marathon appeared to be over in 2018, when he swapped Turin for Paris, signing for the French champions in his quest for the Champions League glory. But his spell away from Italy lasted only one year, and when the opportunity to return to Juve as a bit-part player arose, the legendary shot-stopper did not hesitate.

Buffon has crept ever closer to breaking the record this season, and having deputised seven times for the number one Szczesny thus far, the special day is finally upon us.

Gianluigi Buffon
AC Milan v Juventus - Coppa Italia: Semi Final | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Juve will be aiming to honour the World Cup winner with a victory in their chase for another Serie A title on Saturday, and if the big Italian is in the same form he produced in the Coppa Italia defeat to Napoli, then their bitter rivals will have plenty of difficulty getting past him.

Even at 42 years old, he's still got it - and it'll be a sad day when he finally hangs up his gloves.

Buffon will go down in history as one of the most imperious, sturdy and impressive goalkeepers in history. And after this weekend, his incredible longevity will be immortalised in statistics, setting a number of appearances that will be dauntingly vast for any other player to reach.