Rome, June 5 (IANS) Former Italy skipper Paolo Maldini said on Friday Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon “deserves” to win the Champions League for being the best goalkeeper of the last three decades as his side take on FC Barcelona in the final at Berlin on Saturday.
Maldini-led Italian team AC Milan that beat Juventus in 2003 final on penalties in the Champions League final, but he says he will be rooting for the Italian giants in the grand final.
“Of course I’ll be supporting Juve, I have friends playing for them. I have had everything in my life, and while teasing can be fun I will not be rooting against my own,” Maldini was quoted as saying by goal.com on Friday.
“Besides, Buffon deserves it since he has been the best goalkeeper of the last three decades and is an icon of world football. He is always smiling and always calm. Often he is criticised on the basis only of his age, since the same mistake 10 years ago would be forgiven. I know that from experience!”
Maldini featured in eight Champions League finals and won five. The 46-year-old also added there is no experience quite like winning the European showpiece for the first time.
“Yes, the emotion is stronger the first time around. You take everything in as you never known if it will happen to you again. I then went on to play in eight finals, but you have to take it all in your stride.
If the group is not ready the tension can be a bad thing. It is important to have a coach who can speak with assurance and calmness, and then there are also the leaders in the side. In Berlin, Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez will be crucial.”
Pirlo appeared alongside Maldini in three finals for AC Milan and the former skipper admits he had an ulterior motive when getting in touch with his old team-mate recently ahead of his fourth such showpiece.
“I needed two tickets,” he said.