Gianluigi Buffon reveals his surprise support for ‘second team’ CAMEROON at the World Cup after Italy’s failure to qualify for Qatar – and says their famous 1990 side were ‘like heroes to me’
Gianluigi Buffon has announced he will support Cameroon during the World Cup after Italy failed to qualify for Qatar, with the legendary goalkeeper saying the nation has long been his been his ‘second team’.
Italy are missing their second consecutive World Cup, with the reigning European champions suffering a shock 1-0 defeat to North Macedonia in a playoff in March.
The defeat followed the Azzurri missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, after a play-off loss to Sweden.
Gianluigi Buffon has announced he will support Cameroon during the World Cup in Qatar
Buffon, who was part of Italy’s World Cup winning side in 2006, has revealed he will back Cameroon in Qatar.
The veteran goalkeeper told Radio Anch’io Sport, as per the Sun, that Cameroon had become his second team during the 1982 World Cup in Spain, where Italy faced the African nation in the group stage.
Buffon said Cameroon’s famous 1990 side were were his heroes, with the squad including goalkeeper Thomas N’Kono, as well as forwards Francois Omam-Biyik and Roger Milla.
‘It has always been my second team, my favorite Serie B team, ever since the 1982 World Cup’, said Buffon, who won a record 175 caps for Italy during his international career.
‘In 1990 my support was total, with players like N’Kono, Milla, Omam-Biyik who, for me, were heroes.
‘The 1990 Cameroon squad I could repeat by heart.’
Italy failed to qualify for Qatar after the four-time winners lost to North Macedonia in a playoff
Cameroon famously beat Argentina at Italia 90 in one of the World Cup’s biggest upsets
Cameroon became the first African nation to reach the World Cup quarter-finals when they reached the last eight at Italia 90 , where they suffered a 3-2 loss to England in extra time.
Senegal and Ghana are the only other African nations to match the achievement, reaching the same stage in 2002 and 2010 respectively.
Cameroon’s 1990 squad delivered one of the World Cup’s greatest upsets, when they stunned reigning champions Argentina on the opening day.
Omam-Biyik scored the only goal in the 1-0 win, with Cameroon holding on despite finishing the match with nine men.
The Indomitable Lions’ path through the tournament saw Milla became the World Cup’s oldest goalscorer, with the forward scoring four times, each famously celebrated with a dance at the corner flag.
Buffon has regularly named N’Kono among his heroes, claiming the Cameroonian shot-stopper had influenced his career.
The pair met at Parma’s training ground last year, following Buffon’s return to his first professional club.
‘The idols of youth always remain idols, even decades later,’ Buffon wrote.
‘It is always a pleasure to hug my friend Thomas N’Kono again, the one thanks to whom I became a goalkeeper!’
Cameroon will begin their 2022 World Cup campaign when they face Switzerland at the Al Janoub Stadium on Thursday.
Rigobert Song’s side will then face Serbia, before concluding Group G against World Cup favourites Brazil.