Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon set an outright Serie A record on Saturday with his 648th appearance in Italy’s top flight.
The derby game against Torino moved the 42-year-old Buffon one ahead of AC Milan great Paolo Maldini, who set the record in 2009. Buffon matched this record on Dec. 18 against Sampdoria.
“It wasn’t a problem to wait for the record game. I would have waited even longer, because this is a delicate moment of the season,” Buffon said after the game. “The only tension I had today was related to the match. The importance and the stakes were greater than my personal record.”
Juventus beat Torino 4-1 to extend its advantage at the top of the table to seven points over second-place Lazio.
The Juventus players had “648UFFON” on the sleeve of their shirts to mark the occasion.
It was also Buffon’s 915th club match as a professional, extending his record for an Italian player.
The vast majority of those games have come for Juventus. Buffon joined the Bianconeri in 2001 after starting his career with Parma and swiftly established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
He was expected to retire at the end of the 2017-18 season but instead made a surprise move to Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the French league to add to his multiple titles. He caused even more of a stir when he rejoined Juventus the following year.
Buffon recently extended his contract for another season, during which he will turn 43.
“The real motivation for which I continue to play is the fact that I feel well and that I can still play at a good level, giving excellent responses,” Buffon said. "And if you have enthusiasm, it is right to continue.
“Anyway, ever since I turned 40, I think of the future month after month. At the moment, nothing makes me happier than playing certain games. ”
Buffon could add to his impressive medal collection with a 10th Serie A title with Juventus.
Two other titles were stripped from the club due to the Calciopoli scandal. Also as punishment, Juventus was relegated to Serie B but Buffon stayed and helped it win the second division and bounce straight back up.
He also holds the Serie A record for most successive minutes without conceding a goal, setting the mark of 974 in the 2015-16 season.
Buffon made 176 appearances for Italy - a European record - and was voted Serie A’s goalkeeper of the year 12 times.
He also won the World Cup with Italy in 2006 and the UEFA Cup with Parma in 1999.
One of the few trophies missing from Buffon’s glittering collection is the Champions League. He lost three finals in that competition with Juventus.
“It is something that hangs around in your head, it is inevitable, having often come close,” Buffon said.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports