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Soccer: Buffon backed after Beckenbauer pensioner jibe

Bayern honorary chairman criticised Italy keeper's display

Soccer: Buffon backed after Beckenbauer pensioner jibe

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, April 4 - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has backed Azzurri keeper Gianluigi Buffon to come back strongly after Franz Beckenbauer said he looked like a "pensioner" in Juventus's 2-0 defeat at Bayern Munich on Tuesday. Bayern Honorary Chairman Beckenbauer was referring to Buffon's reaction to David Alaba's long-distance shot that gave Bayern the lead in the Champions League quarter-final first leg in under less than 30 seconds. "He seemed like a pensioner," Germany great Beckenbauer said. "Alaba shot from 120 metres away. "I don't want to upset Buffon, but he should have kept that shot out. Perhaps he didn't think that Alaba would shoot from so far". Buffon was also at fault with Bayern's second goal, pushing a Luiz Gustavo shot to the feet of Mario Mandzukic, who set up a tap-in for Thomas Mueller. The 35-year-old, who was part of Italy's 2006 World Cup winning team and is still widely considered one of the world's best keepers, took Beckenbauer's jibe on the chin. "I can't object to anything which that old wise man Beckenbauer said," Buffon told satirical news show Striscia la Notizia after being awarded a golden 'tapir' as a booby prize for his poor display. "As the saying goes, when you're a hammer, you hit, when you're an anvil, you take it. "It's necessary to stay silent and wait for the next game. "When you're in this line of business, mistakes happen. I'm sorry I compromised the game. I'm sorry for me, for the team and for my fans". On Thursday Prandelli said he was confident Buffon would soon show why he was named the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics) goalkeeper of the year four times and was named goalkeeper of the 21st century and of the decade by the same organisation. "Gigi (Buffon) responded very well (to Beckenbauer), with great balance and irony, and pensioners are wise" said Prandelli. "Joking aside, Gigi has already given a great reaction and he'll keep doing so. Then the field of play will decide everything. "The tie (against Bayern) is still open, very open". Buffon's mistakes always make headlines because they are so rare. Indeed, Napoli keeper Morgan De Sanctis last month announced he was retiring from the national team as he said he no longer had it in him to keep playing understudy to Buffon. Buffon is blessed with superb reflexes, an ability to give his defenders peace of mind with his firm command of the penalty area under high balls and superb concentration skills. He joined Juve from Parma in 2001 and helped them win the 2002, 2003 and 2012 Serie A titles, as well as the 2005 and 2006 scudettos that were subsequently taken away because of the match-fixing scandal. He was also part of the team that reached the final of the European Champions League in 2003 and was among the handful of top players who stayed at Juve to help them return to the top flight after the were regelated because of the 2006 scandal. He shares second place with Paolo Maldini in Italy's all-time appearances standings with 126 caps, 10 fewer than 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro.

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