Why we should all cry with Buffon
Buffon retires from International football
It was the saddest of ends to one of the greatest international careers.
Gigi Buffon announced his international retirement within seconds of Italy's World Cup being ended by Sweden in the playoffs in Milan.
At the age of 39 - after an Italian record 175 caps, 1 World Cup success and thousands of incredible saves across five World Cups the journey is over for one of the true greats of the game.
A player admired and loved by fans across the world, by his teammates, by opponents. Such is the affection Buffon is held in.
Relations between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi may have softened over the years, but fellow goalkeeper have always loved Buffon - even his biggest rival for trophies and being number one No 1 - Iker Casillas.
Casillas, Buffon only has his international memories to save.
Memories like his Azzurri debut, ironically in a World Cup play-off against Russia on October 29, 1997. He was 19-years-old.
Back then his biggest worry was his hair, as former Italy manager Marcel Lippi recently revealed.
Fortunately Lippi was not so concerned about how long Buffon's hair was just how he performed on the pitch and worked in training.
Few work harder. That's why 20 years after his debut Buffon was still going strong.
It is why he played his final international match just weeks after being named Uefa’s No 1 goalkeeper. With the saves he is still producing it was easy to see why.
They are the sort of saves that saw him rule the world in 2006. Buffon took centre stage as the final against France went to a penalty shoot-out, but before it began he shared a warm embrace with his opposite number Fabien Barthez. They knew one of them would become the hero of their nation within the following eight minutes of drama. That hero was Buffon. He still his.
Fast forward to 2018 and the dream of playing at a sixth World Cup record. It would have been a fitting stage, the correct stage for a man who has some of the most iconic saves in football to have ended his career.
Instead of walking with the eyes of the world, the stars of Sweden have been honored. There may have been a final cleansheet for Buffon but it was no consolation. It was right that such a warrior should be vanquished on the battlefield, just Milan was not the place anyone dreamed it would end for Buffon.
Now all that remains are the memories. The memories and the overwhelming eulogies of his fellow professionals to one of international football's true statesmen.