Madrid, April 12: Gianluigi Buffon's distinguished Champions League career potentially ended in ignominy on Wednesday night as he was sent off before Juventus went down to a heart-breaking aggregate defeat at Real Madrid.
Mario Mandzukic's first-half brace stunned the Santiago Bernabeu before a dreadful error from Keylor Navas saw Blaise Matuidi wipe out what remained of Madrid's commanding 3-0 first-leg advantage.
But English referee Michael Oliver penalised Medhi Benatia for a foul on Madrid forward Lucas Vazquez inside the Juve area and their 40-year-old captain flew into a rage.
Oliver sent off Buffon for his protests, meaning the goalkeeping great could only watch on as Cristiano Ronaldo slammed the decisive penalty past substitute Wojciech Szczesny.
If this is Buffon bowing out at the top level of European football – he has publicly pondered the prospect of retirement at the end of this season – it was a cruel way to go.
1 - Gianluigi Buffon has been sent off in the Champions League for the 1st time in his career (117 games). End. pic.twitter.com/0QpObjUmNC— OptaJean (@OptaJean) April 11, 2018
Instant parallels were drawn between the veteran's departure and the playing farewell of Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, who infamously headbutted Marco Materazzi to be red carded in the 2006 World Cup final before Buffon's Italy beat France on penalties.
Indeed, some words from Buffon in an interview with Sky Sport Italia, now make for awkward reading.
"Of course I have objectives, but there are no certainties," he said on the topic of retirement.
"Maybe I could even end my career with a headbutt like Zidane did. I could nut somebody -- who knows.
"I need to search deep within myself and work out how I feel. You can never say never, though."
To be clear, Buffon certainly did not headbutt Oliver. But, still… careful what you wish for, Gigi.