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Buffon aims for UEFA Champions League glory

The world's most expensive goalkeeper is hungry for success, starting with the UEFA Champions League. Italian number one Gianluigi Buffon, who made a €40.3m midsummer move from Parma AC to Juventus FC, is in a hurry to face new "challenges" and pick up "new trophies".

Buffon made headlines with his record breaking transfer from Parma this summer

Shock move
Speaking to uefa.com after a recent training session at the old Communale stadium in Turin, the 23-year-old, 21-times-capped Buffon explained that his move to the "Old Lady" had come as something of a surprise. Having grown up in the Parma youth team, he felt and still feels a strong loyalty to Parma. Accordingly, he had assured the club of his willingness to stay with them this season.

Desire to win
When Parma's financial strategy changed and he found himself on the market, then he knew exactly where he wanted to go and why: "To tell you the truth, I didn't even think I would be moving from Parma this year but then things changed and my transfer came about in a very short time. Clearly, if I had to leave Parma, then I was going to go to a big team, either to Juventus or Milan (AC). I've had no problem settling down here because my main reason for moving from Parma was to win something, to face new challenges and collect new trophies. Everything else is subordinate and secondary to that"

Winning habit
Although Parma have a splendid recent cup record, having won two UEFA Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and two Italian Cups in the last decade, they have so far flattered only to deceive in both the Serie A title contest and the UEFA Champions League. In moving to Italy's most successful club, Buffon is all too aware that he has arrived in a team where winning has often been a good habit: "This is a club where they take things one day at a time, game by game. This is a good group of players. We're not worried by any team, we've plenty of respect for everybody but, in the end, probably it's our opponents who are more worried by us".

Perfect timing
Buffon's move to Juventus appears to have come at just the right moment. Even though they sold the world's most expensive player, French wizard Zinedine Zidane, to Real Madrid CF, Juventus ironically look stronger and more hungry than ever. While Zidane left, he was replaced by a top-class quartet that featured Buffon, his Parma team mate, Frenchman Lilian Thuram, Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved and Chilean striker Marcelo Salas. Add in the return of winning coach Marcello Lippi, the comeback of Dutchman Edgar Davids, back after a five-month ban following a positive test for nandrolene, and the good form shown by a rejuvenated Alessandro del Piero and it is easy to understand why Buffon is optimistic about both Juve's prospects in both the Champions League and Serie A.

Promising start
In this latter regard, take note that Juventus have already served warning on their rivals, winning their first three league games to go top of Serie A. If the usual suspects such as Milan, Internazionale FC, S.S.Lazio and AS Roma look like Juve's major domestic rivals, what does Buffon make of Juve's first phase Champions League group - Rosenborg BK, Celtic FC and FC Porto?

Opponents assessed
"We all know that Rosenborg have been dominating Norwegian football for the last decade and they always go well in the Champions League because they are the sort of team that is difficult for everyone, " Buffon says. "Celtic have just returned to the top again and if you look at the players they have and the fact that they eliminated (AFC) Ajax in the qualifying round, then it means they are a good team. Clearly, (Henrik) Larsson is a good player. I saw him at EURO 2000" last season and he was obviously useful.

No fear
But Buffon adds ominously:"Porto are the classic technically strong side that can cause you problems, especially at home where the environment can be hot. But as I said before we don't have to be frightened of anyone".

This article is entitled from "Buffon aims for UEFA Champions League glory", taken from UEFA Magazine. The images are not original.