CARDIFF, June 3 (Reuters) - The greatest goalkeeper of his generation, Juventus's Gianluigi Buffon tasted defeat in his third Champions League final as the major missing medal from his illustrious career once again slipped out of his grasp on Saturday.
A 4-1 defeat by Real Madrid was tough to take for the 39-year-old who may never get another chance to win European club football's top prize.
"It's a big disappointment because we thought we did everything we needed to win," Buffon told Italian television as Real celebrated at the Principality Stadium.
"We had a great first half in which we had Real in trouble. It leaves you with an open mouth, the episodes that never went our way," he said, referring to Casemiro's deflected strike that put Real 2-1 up.
Buffon had played in two previous Champions League finals and both times went home as a runner-up, against AC Milan on penalties in Manchester in 2003 and against Barcelona in Berlin two years ago.
Even in his state of bitter disappointment, however, Buffon was able to sum up exactly what is needed to triumph.
"To win this cup you have to be stronger than everything against you. In the second half their class, their strength, their ability to win these challenges was seen and they deservedly won," he said.
While it will be no consolation for the Juventus captain when he looks back on his career, he cannot afford to dwell too much on those finals.
At club level, Buffon got off to a winning start in his career, claiming the UEFA Cup and Italian Cup with Parma in 1999. With Juventus he has won the Italian league title eight times.
In the colours of the national team, under the guidance of his former Juve coach Marcello Lippi, Buffon won the World Cup in 2006, making up for the disappointment of missing out on Italy's European Championship success in 2000 due to injury.
Editing by Ed Osmond