Saturday, July 19 th, 2014
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Udinese's Simone Scuffet: the same destiny as Gianluigi Buffon?
The goalkeeper debuted at his 17 and hit the headlines against a Milanese team. Exactly like the number 1 of Italy and Juventus. But recent history is full of missed successors of Buffon...
by John Cavenaghi
How many times in these years have we heard the words “he’s the new Ronaldo”, or “he’s the new Zidane”, referred to the umpteenth young talent coming from some prestigious primavera or cantera or simply youth sector, to use a less seducing terminology?


Usually it works this way: the greater the player, the greater the number of comparisons. If a great player happens to have longevity, as well as greatness, in his DNA, he might be lucky enough to see most- or at least many- of his successors debut and then vanish, without leaving any mark, while he is still playing. This is exactly the case of Gianluigi Buffon, arguably the greatest goalkeeper of this century. Buffon grew up when Italians still used to do it (goalkeeping) by far better than anybody else: he debuted with the Azzurri jersey at 19, while keepers like Gianluca Pagliuca, Angelo Peruzzi, Francesco Toldo were around.


In a matter of just two or three years he became the benchmark, in Italy and around the world. Being the benchmark is cool, as you usually also become a role model to many young kids who look up to you. In a competitive environment such as football, however, some of those young kids admire you so much that they undertake your same career, because of you. Most of them will fail, but a lucky bunch will succeed, and to their eyes- still looking up to you- you will now have a bulls’-eye on your back.


At first it was Curci, due to the combination of his young age and the prestige of his number 1 shirt: Roma. Then came Pelizzoli and Amelia, Viviano and Consigli, Marchetti and Sirigu. Some of these players were lucky enough to share the same locker room with Buffon while representing Italy, most of them however never even made it to a top club. Now is the turn of Bardi, Perin and Leali…and Simone Scuffet.


Sorry, who?!

Oh, the 17-year old from Udine who debuted almost two months ago at Bologna with a clean sheet, and has kept his starting-eleven role since? Apparently, the kid’s got game. Most distracted Serie A fans will have missed his debut, so we found all the youtube footage there is for them (and you). The first is a great save on Maxi Lopez. Scuffet has both size and reactivity, as well as a good sense of position.

Making hard things look easy is a typical feature of great keepers: check.

Exactly like Buffon, he also conceded zero goals against Milan in his first career game against the Rossoneri. A few weeks ago, Udinese won 1-0, and he made at least three crucial saves. What emerged in this game, is a great ability between the posts, and still lots of room for improvement in his outside game. He definitely has age on his side.

Keeping a clean sheet in your first game against Milan: check.

The final video is on his debut at the San Siro against Inter, just a couple of days ago. After this game, comparisons with Buffon started, mainly because also Buffon debuted against a great team from Milan (it was AC back then), and managed to keep a clean sheet with several great saves. Although formally it was Scuffet’s ninth game, the first time at “La Scala del Calcio” always makes your legs (or hands) tremble. Not Scufett’s.

Whether he’s the new Buffon or not, it is too early to say. Age, talent, potential and geographic origins (Scuffet is from Friuli, like Zoff and Buffon…) are on his side. We leave it up to you. And if you forgot Gigi’s first, epic game in Serie A, you can find it here.

So, what do you think?

Monday, April 14 th, 2014
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