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In the build up to Sunday nights Roma-Juventus game Gigi Buffon withdrew from the squad with a flu he developed overnight. Prior to this season that would have been cause for widespread panic in the Bianconeri ranks, seeing normally rational individuals reach for the holy water à la Giovanni Trappatoni. This year however, the reaction is very different and, while there is no way anyone can claim to replace Superman, la vecchia Signora certainly has discovered she has a more than capable stand in.

Upon taking over the club this summer Beppe Marotta and Gigi Delneri tackled this issue ahead of all others. The answer to who could replace Buffon - out injured and recovering from back surgery - came easily to the two ex-Sampdoria men, as they simply turned to the man who did so well for them and the Blucerchiati last season.

Marco Storari was the first signing of this Andrea Agnelli era Juventus, and at just €4.5 million (spread over three years) he is also perhaps the best value addition too. Statistically the best ‘keeper in Serie in the second half of last season he was up there again in the first part of this term despite Juve’s defensive frailty. Joining Juve from Milan made it seem like he was firmly established among the elite, but that has not been the case for the Pisa born stopper.

He made his professional debut in Serie C1 for Ancona at 21, earning promotion to the second tier of Italian football in 2000, before leaving two years later for Napoli who were also in B. After just four games he was loaned to another team in the same division, Messina who made the deal permanent the following summer. Finally he established himself as a first team regular and helped the Sicilian side to their first promotion to the top flight in over forty years.

Obviously heavily favoured to be relegated immediately the team took the league by storm - echoing the performance of Chievo’s ‘Flying Donkeys’ of a few years earlier - with Storari playing a huge role. He kept eleven clean sheets that term, notably in a 0-0 draw with Juve and a Sicilian derby with Palermo. The following season did not go so well and the team lost 19 games yet, due to the relegation of Juventus, Messina were reinstated to Serie A despite finishing eight points adrift of safety.

January the following year and finally one of Italian footballs giants came calling for the then 30 year old Storari. With injuries affecting both their first choice ‘keepers Milan took him on loan but he seemingly froze, conceding seven goals in three games. Losing his place in the team then the match day squad as others returned he looked to repair his reputation on loan at Levante. His bad luck did not stop there as the Spanish team sent him back, unable to pay his wages and in serious financial difficulty, much like Messina.

He spent time at both Cagliari and Fiorentina before returning to Milan, finally becoming the first choice number one at the start of last season. He did well, earning a new contract and finally looking like putting an end to his nomadic career which has seen him play for twelve different teams already. Then injury struck and by the time he returned Milan had moved on. So Storari did the same, joining Sampdoria and Delneri’s impressive looking side in Genoa. He played 19 games and was vital to the team securing a Champions League playoff berth.

Milan recalled him, then inexplicably sold him to Juventus while signing the much maligned Marco Amelia from Genoa in an exchange that made no sense. Given his performances so far in Turin however nobody here is complaining, despite him conceding 26 goals in 20 games.

In many of those games the team dominated and he was largely a spectator until a defensive lapse allowed the opposition a shooting chance. This level of concentration is hugely important, a difficult skill for any player and it is testament to his maturity and awareness that most of the goals have not been his fault. Minimising his mistakes and making crucial stops has instilled confidence in an ever changing back four, an attribute even Buffon has failed to transmit in recent games.

So while Delneri will have a tough decision to make once Buffon’s nose stops running it is the man doing an even more impossible job that continues to go unheralded. His career path thus far will ensure he never takes it for granted and while you never tug on Superman’s cape, Marco Storari is wearing his gloves and looking comfortable doing it.

Read an interesting take on the other Italian keepers behind Buffon from Danny Penza

  • Ted

    Storari single handedly won Juve the game yesterday. Roma could of put at least three goals past Juventus in the first half..but Storari made a few spectacular saves, it would be a insult if he’s benched.

    Also, Juan one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever seen…fail on the offside trap..hahaha

  • Ted

    Buffon only starts because his last name is ” Buffon “..Storari has had a better year IMHO…

  • Valentin

    Is Buffon injured or something? Why is that waste of 5 million playing isntead of him.

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