CARDIFF (Reuters) - Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has experienced more or less everything in his illustrious career but says he still feels fear ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Buffon, 39, will become the oldest player to win the Champions League if he finally gets his hands on the trophy in the Welsh capital and will be spurred on by the heartache of losing two previous finals.
Much will depend on the performance of the 2006 World Cup winner who will be in the crosshairs of a deadly Real attack spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo - the only player to score over 100 goals in the competition.
“It’s the kind of fear you need to have when you play this kind of game,” he said in an interview with Mediaset.
”You need to find courage to beat this fear and I generally manage to do so. That’s why I feel much stronger than people who say they are never scared.
“We will play the game with confidence. We just want to have no regrets at the final whistle.”
Buffon has been the last line of a Juve defence that conceded only three times en route to the final - the lowest total since Arsenal arrived at the showpiece game against Barcelona in 2006 having let in two goals.
Arsenal lost to Barcelona on that occasion but Buffon is determined to finally add the missing medal to his collection which includes multiple Serie A titles with Juve.
“I have always maintained that, in football, making the final means nothing if you don’t win it,” Buffon said.
”I don’t look at the Champions League as the trophy that evades me - but, yes, it is a big dream for me to win it.
“After the defeat to Barcelona in the final, two years ago, many people thought I would never have another chance, but I always believed that, if we worked hard, I would get another opportunity - and this time we must make it count.”
Buffon will be 39 years, 126 days old on Saturday, whereas fellow Italian great Paolo Maldini was 38 years, 331 days when he skippered Milan to victory against Liverpool in 2007.
Hungarian great Ferenc Puskas was 39 years and 39 days old when he helped Real Madrid win the European Cup in 1966.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Ken Ferris