Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gianluigi Buffon are icons of the modern age. The pair might be fierce rivals on the pitch, but off the field, there is a strong mutual respect between the two men.
This friendship was demonstrated following Real Madrid’s triumph against Juventus in the Champions League last week to reach the semi-finals of this season’s tournament. Los Blancos are now 2/1 favourites in the Sports Betting Markets to win European football’s elite prize.
With Juve 3-0 up going into second-half stoppage time, it looked as if we were going to have another Champions League classic on our hands after Madrid won the first leg 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, it was Ronaldo’s spot-kick that led to Madrid advancing after Mehdi Benatia was penalised for his challenge on Lucas Vazquez.
The 40-year-old Buffon was furious at referee Michael Oliver’s decision to award a spot-kick and was awarded with a red card for showing dissent. Buffon made his frustrations known after the game, even going on to say that Oliver has a “garbage bin” in place of his heart.
It easy to see why Buffon is upset. This is in all probability the Italian legend’s last ever season as a professional footballer. However, the keeper can still play at the highest level as he has proven this season and following his decision to come out of international retirement and play for Italy during the latest international break, one would not put it past Buffon to play for one more season.
Throughout his career, the Champions League winner’s medal is also one that has eluded him. He has been a losing finalist three times in his career, in 2003, 2015 and 2017.
Ronaldo: ‘I have a lot of respect for Buffon’
Buffon appeared to be calmer after Ronaldo appeared and interrupted one of his interviews, offering his condolences. The 33-year-old reportedly told the Italian: “I am sorry.”
Ronaldo also went on to praise the 2006 World Cup winner Buffon for being one of the greats of the game and expressed hope that the match would not have been his last Champions League appearance. “I have a lot of respect for Buffon, the words he has said about me, and what I’ve said about him,” Ronaldo told RTP.
“He is a great goalkeeper and I hope this is not his last Champions League appearance, he is one of the best goalkeepers ever.”