Injury time heroics show that Italy finally have their Gianluigi Buffon replacement

Ed Angeli

Italy have produced one of, if not the best goalkeeper(s) of all-time in Gianluigi Buffon. The Juventus legend has dominated the No.1 jersey for the national side for nearly two decades. However, the Italian hero, sadly, cannot be around forever and the Azzurri look to have their readymade replacement in 17-year-old, Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The AC Milan ‘keeper saved a penalty last night in injury-time, to ensure his side won their opening Serie A fixture 3-2 against Torino.

At just 16 years old, last season, Donnarumma established himself as AC Milan’s No. 1 choice, making 31 appearances. And at 6 ft 5 inches, the San Siro man provides a real presence between the sticks, despite nearly being born at the bloody turn of the century.

“Having just hit puberty, he’s incredibly strong for a boy with less hair than Ray Wilkins”

Vincenzo Montella, AC Milan Boss

To get your head around just how impressive his achievements are, you only have to look as far as yourself. What were you up to at 16/17? My worries were trying to get through my GCSE French foundation, bag a double-science pass mark and making sure I could put clean pants on everyday. In case you were wondering, I managed two of the three…

In contrast, the man from Italy has to deal with the partisan Milan crowd, play in fiery Inter/AC derbies with 80,000 people watching and order defenders twice his age around. And now the young lad looks set to be Italy’s No.1 before his 18th birthday! In similar style to Jamie Vardy, my 18th consisted of trying to navigate my way back to bed from some dodgy European strip – not challenging the great Buffon, for his iconic Italian shirt.

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Donnarumma is managed by Mino Raiola, so there is no doubt that come his 21st birthday – which is still in four years time – the Italian giant will probably be earning similar wages to myself when I was working at my local pub at the same age.

We’ll see what season the AC ‘keeper has to offer, but the boyhood Juve admirer seems set to have one heck of a future ahead of him.