This weekend's Premier League offered us a glimpse of the terrifying reality of the present: West Brom had on their bench a kid named Rekeem Harper, who was born on the 8th March, 2000. Yep, he wasn't alive when Gerard Houllier took sole charge of Liverpool, and was just five months old when Thierry Henry spun and volleyed a ball over the head of Fabien Barthez at Highbury. Sorry to make you feel old.
One man who has no issue with age, however, is the great Gianluigi Buffon. At the age of 39, the Juve 'keeper is three games from his holy grail: the European Cup, the only competition in club football he has yet to win. He is also as good as ever, and not only did he maintain his remarkable record of never conceding a goal to Lionel Messi, he managed to keep a pair of clean sheets against Europe's most famed attack. It maintains a record of shut-outs in the knockout stages.
Speaking to the media today ahead of tomorrow's Champions League semi-final against Monaco, Buffon reflected on the fact that the greatest threat to that clean sheet record tomorrow evening is 18-year-old teenage sensation Kylian Mbappé, and meditated wonderfully on the considerable age gap:
He was born in 1998, right? I had already taken part in the World Cup in France before he was born. This is the joy of life, the great thing about lasting for a long time. You get the meet kids who weren’t even born when you already had a good chunk of your career behind you.
The other day, I worked out that I managed to connect practically three generations. I used to play with those born in the 1950s and 60s, then I’ll end up playing against those born after the year 2000. It’s an enormous stretch of time.
It’s stimulating knowing that you’re facing the future Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. Maybe in 10 years, when I have hung up my gloves, they will be the seasoned champions and I’ll have the memory of playing against them at the start of their careers.
In any case, Mbappé is an incredible talent and also seems like a good kid, so that will really help his career and I hope it’ll be a luminous career, at that.
Buffon came through at Parma in 1995, and made his debut with the likes of Gianfranco Zola, Tomas Brolin, and Tino Asprilla. And to confirm just how long ago that was, and how times have changed, Zola is currently balding as the ex-manager of beleaguered Birmingham City whom he left with an 8% win ratio, Asprilla is building a business empire based on a line of flavoured condoms, and as for Tomas Brolin....
— Revista Líbero (@revistalibero) January 14, 2017