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Anointed The ‘Chosen One’ By Gigi Buffon, The Next Great Italian Keeper Made His Italy Bow At 17 Years Old

The list of great Italian goalkeepers surpasses that of any other nation on the planet. The likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Dino Zoff and Walter Zenga, to name just a few, have all represented the Azzurri with great ability and longevity. On Thursday, we got our first look at the next great Italian goalkeeper, AC Milan’s exceptional 17-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

Replacing Gigi Buffon, the 38-year-old Juventus stalwart who’s called Donnarumma the ‘chosen one’ and Italy’s future, at half-time during Italy's friendly against France, the 17-year-old added another milestone to his still fledgling career.

Donnarumma began the 2015-16 season as AC Milan’s third-choice goalkeeper, but he would become the youngest starting goalkeeper in the history of Italian football at the age of 16 years and eight months when chosen to start against Sassuolo. 

Donnarumma would go on to appear in 29 more Serie A matches while also starting for the Rossoneri against Juventus in the Coppa Italia final. 

Donnarumma’s club form has been rewarded this September with a call up for Italy’s World Cup qualifiers. 

In 2015, he was the starting goalkeeper for Italy’s under-17 team. Now, he’s attempting to usher in the next generation of Italian goalkeeping by usurping Buffon as Italy’s No. 1. 

Buffon, however, has no intention of stepping aside just yet.

“Donnarumma is a chosen one. There’s a new project, and we’re ready to make our quality available to the coach,” said Buffon. “When you feel you still have something to give then you’re ready for a new project.” 

Italy face a difficult task in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. They’ve been placed in a qualification group with Spain and Albania. 

Italy begin their campaign with a difficult away trip to Israel. Their second match is a crunch tie against Spain in October at the Juventus Stadium in Turin.

Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming

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