Italian national team manager Antonio Conte has hailed his goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier against Bulgaria.

Buffon is set to make his 150th appearance for the Azzurri, should he feature in the clash against Bulgaria at Palermo’s Stadio Renzo Barbera stadium. The 37-year-old Juventus shot-stopper is the highest capped Italian national team player of all time, having served for his national side for the last 18 years.

Conte has played alongside Buffon for Juventus

Antonio Conte found it hard to describe the greatness of Buffon in words. Conte has previously played alongside Buffon at Juventus, while he has also been his manager during his time with Juventus and Italy.

Speaking in the pre-match press conference, as quoted by Goal, Conte said:

a Finding the words to describe Gigi is tough.

“He is such a champion. I admire him as a player and as a man. He was my team-mate, my goalkeeper at club level and now for Italy.a

Buffon has had an illustrious 18-year career for the national team, the pinnacle of which has been the 2006 World Cup triumph. Italy beat France in the finals courtesy of a penalty shootout win, where Buffon’s heroics proved instrumental.

I am not disappointed by criticism – it’s part of the game – Conte

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The Azzurri were also criticized for their lackluster performance in the 1-0 win over Malta on Thursday night. However, Conte insisted that he was not disappointed by the criticism and insisted that his side will try to silence the critics with their hard work.

a I am not disappointed by criticism– it’s part of the game. The national team is on its own. Ita s open to criticism more than any other team. We will try to silence the critics with hard work.”