WE will be taking a look at some of the great names from our many opponents to have graced the pitch at Ibrox Stadium.
We begin with Gianluigi Buffon, the legendary Italian goalkeeper who played twice for Parma here in Govan in 1998 and 1999.
Ask anyone who the greatest goalkeeper ever to play the game is and the vast majority of answers you’ll receive will reference Gianluigi Buffon.
Having left Juventus at the end of last season, where he spent an astonishing 17 years, Buffon began his career with Parma, who at the time were one of the leading lights in European football.
While there he won the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup in season 1998/99, knocking out Rangers en route to the latter, but more on that later.
Buffon moved to Juventus in the summer of 2001 for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper of around €51million.
His spell with the ‘Old Lady’ was incredible. He won 11 Serie A titles (although two have since been stripped) and Coppa Italia on four occasions.
He also stayed with Juve for their season in Serie B in 2006/07 after they were relegated following the Calciopoli scandal, in which they stood accused of rigging referee selections along other Serie A clubs.
It took Juventus many years to recover from their relegation but in recent seasons they have been one of the strongest sides in all of Europe, dominating Serie A while reaching two Champions League Finals, losing to Barcelona in 2015 in Berlin and to Real Madrid in 2017 in Cardiff. It remains pretty-much the only major honour to evade Buffon.
Internationally, Buffon is simply legendary too.
He made his debut in 1997 for Italy and since then he has claimed an astonishing 176 caps and played a key role as the Azzuri won the 2006 World Cup in Germany, defeating France on penalties in the final.
He is the most-capped Italian player of all-time and the most-capped European of all-time, and despite retiring in November 2017 following their failure to qualify for the World Cup he recently performed a u-turn on his decision and could play again for the national side before officially retiring in May 2018.
Dick Advocaat’s Rangers were motoring along nicely in the UEFA Cup in season 1998/99 until they ran into Parma at the Last 16 stage in November of that season.
The Italians were packed with world-class talent such as Buffon, Hernan Crespo, Juan Sebastian Veron, Lilian Thuram and Dino Baggio.
After a tight first forty-five the visitors went in front through Abel Balbo six minutes after half-time before Rod Wallace sent Ibrox wild with an equaliser 18 minutes later.
Gordon Durie then missed a sitter in injury time nodded the ball over Buffon’s bar from inside the six-yard box.
The second leg saw Jorg Albertz put his side ahead after 27 minutes but Rangers, who later had Lorenzo Amoruso and Sergio Porrini red-carded, fell to a 3-1 away defeat.
Parma went on to win the UEFA Cup that season and at the beginning of the next campaign they were drawn to face Rangers again, this time in the Champions League final qualifying round.
This time the Light Blues were incredible, turning over the Italians 2-0 at Ibrox, with Buffon helpless for Tony Vidmar and Claudio Reyna’s goals in front of a fervent home crowd. Indeed, Parma had Buffon to thank for keeping the score down on that night.
The second leg was more nervy, with Parma winning 1-0 through a Johan Walem goal, but Gers held out to reach the promised land of the Champions League group stage.
This article was originally posted here