David de Gea has hailed opposing goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as “an idol and a living legend” ahead of Spain’s Euro 2016 second-round tie against Italy.
Buffon remains Italy’s first-choice goalkeeper at the age of 38, with Euro 2016 his ninth appearance at a major international tournament, which includes victory at the 2006 World Cup, and De Gea has confessed that the Juventus veteran is an inspiration to him.
“He’s an idol for any goalkeeper and a living legend in football,” the Manchester United custodian told UEFA’s official website.
“He’s one of the goalkeepers that I’ve noticed and followed the most. He’s a great goalkeeper.”
Buffon was then quizzed about De Gea and Iker Casillas at a Press conference on Monday, and he told reporters: “When you play for your national team, you’re never guaranteed a starting place, there’s always competition.
“No-one can assume that they’re a guaranteed starter. It’s normal in the best national teams and around the sport.
“It’s one of the rules and you must accept it. When you get to the highest level, you must have passion and all the necessary attributes because if you don’t, someone’s always there to take your place.”