As the cover star of FourFourTwo’s February 2019 issue (on sale now!), Gianluigi Buffon has plenty of interesting things to say. One answer, in particular, surprised us.
Buffon is team-mates with Timothy Weah at PSG, having played against Weah’s dad all those years ago on his 1995 debut. Parma and a 17-year-old Buffon famously kept out a Milan side featuring two Ballon d’Or-winning strikers, Roberto Baggio and George Weah; now he’s playing alongside the latter’s progeny (or at least was until Timothy joined Celtic on loan this week). We put it to Gigi that the situation must feel oddly unique and uniquely odd – but apparently not.
“To begin with, as you can imagine, it seemed very strange,” admits Buffon in the new issue. “But when you’re 40 years old, this stuff can happen. I’ve played against [Federico] Chiesa, son of Enrico, who was my room-mate at Parma. I played against Marcus Thuram, who is at Guingamp, after playing together with his father, Lilian, for 10 years.”
That got us thinking. Have there been more father-and-son combos with whom Buffon has shared a pitch? There may even be some he himself has forgotten. Let’s take a look…
Buffon & the Weahs
The Italian knew how to make an entrance. His senior international bow came in the Russian snow for a World Cup 98 play-off, and two years earlier he’d made his club debut against a Milan team that had reached the three previous Champions League finals. Buffon kept a clean sheet as Parma drew with that season’s Serie A winners.
George Weah was one of the Milan men Buffon frustrated that day, and it wasn’t for the final time, either. Weah took on Buffon eight times, all in encounters between the Rossoneri and Parma, as the striker was playing in Abu Dhabi when Buffon moved to Juventus and, strangely, Italy have never faced Liberia. Eight times, Weah failed to score.
Buffon must enjoy reminding Weah’s youngest son of that fact in the PSG dressing room, when he isn’t recalling that he already had 11 Italy caps, UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia winner’s medals and over 150 appearances for Parma under his belt when Timothy was born. Actually, that would probably just make Buffon feel old.
Buffon & the Thurams
As Buffon says, he played alongside Lilian Thuram for a full decade; the pair even moved clubs together in 2001, leaving Parma for Juventus. They were on opposing sides in the 2006 World Cup Final, too. In Buffon’s 23-year career, only Giorgio Chiellini has shared a pitch with him more often than the Frenchman.
Perhaps the keeper noticed a family resemblance when he saw Marcus Thuram bearing down on his goal earlier this season, as Buffon’s PSG went toe-to-toe with Thuram’s Guingamp. Weah also started the game but was hauled off at half-time with PSG trailing, although they stormed back to win 3-1 thanks to two goals from Weah’s replacement, Kylian something or other.
Buffon & the Chiesas
Unlike some of the families to come, Enrico and Federico Chiesa were/are bona fide Serie A regulars. The latter is only 21 yet has been virtually ever-present for Fiorentina over the past year-and-a-half, also picking up 11 caps for Italy in that time. As a result, he has played both with Buffon (once) and against him (three times).
Federico’s father completed that double, too, as an itinerant Serie A striker and 22-time Azzurri international. And yes, he was Buffon’s room-mate at Parma. We like to think he told Federico some awkwardly eye-opening tales about his dad’s sleeping habits when the young winger and the old goalkeeper played together for Italy last year.
Buffon and the Simeones
It seems Fiorentina have a soft spot for former pros’ former sperm, as Federico Chiesa is rubbing shoulders in Florence with Giovanni Simeone, son of Diego. The 23-year-old moved from Argentina to Italy in 2016 and has been scoring with some regularity – as has his father, seemingly, with his three footballing sons and a one-year-old daughter. The ladies love a Tom Waits lookalike.
Daddy Diego never put one past Buffon in a dozen appearances – understandable, given his own role as a combative midfielder – but striker Giovanni rectified that by scoring twice in the opening 15 minutes of his first meeting with the Italian. Playing for Genoa, he finished a goalmouth scramble to give his side an early lead against Juventus, and then planted a header through Buffon’s flailing hands en route to a 3-1 win.
Buffon & the Valotis
Yep, we’re still going. Blame Buffon – so is he.
The veteran No.1 played against another father-son set in Messrs Valoti and Valoti, both midfielders. Midfielder Aladino represented Piacenza versus Parma twice in the late 1990s during a largely unremarkable career. In 2014/15 his son, Mattia, played 19 minutes for Hellas Verona across two fixtures against Juventus.
We’d forgive Buffon for not being aware of this particular connection.
Buffon & the Fricks
Room for one more? Then allow us to present Buffon & the Fricks, also the name of a ’70s hair metal band.
It’s a niche link, this. Mario Frick is Liechtenstein’s all-time top scorer, with 16 goals to his nearest rival’s nine, but the striker-defender – there aren’t enough of those any more – also played his club football in Italy for the best part of a decade, and that’s where he came up against Buffon’s Juventus. Sadly he drew a blank for Hellas Verona in 2001 and twice for Siena in 2007/08, although Siena did shock the Old Lady 1-0.
Young Yanik Frick took the more traditional route to facing Buffon. He does play in Italy; however, his sole appearance against Gigi B to date came in Liechtenstein’s 5-0 defeat to the Azzurri in Udine. It’s what his father would have wanted.
NEXT: Buffon and the subs…