Laurentiu Branescu: Kilmarnock keeper 'learned a lot' from Buffon

Laurentiu Branescu
Buffon, now back at Juventus after a season with PSG, was a key early influence for Branescu at the Italian champions

Laurentiu Branescu "learned a lot" from goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus and will tap into that experience as he bids to establish himself as Kilmarnock number one.

The Romanian, 25, has joined Killie on loan from the Italian champions.

Branescu was a first-team understudy to Buffon from 2012-14 at Juventus, when new Rugby Park manager Angelo Alessio was assistant to Antonio Conte.

"I was 16 when I first met Buffon, I was shaking," Branescu said.

"For me, the most important thing he has is stability. Every season is the same level, only one or two errors, and this is very hard. There are not a lot of goalkeepers in the world who do that and stay at the top level for 20 years.

"It's great experience, you learn a lot from these players. First of all how to be 100% every day in training.

"When I went there I was really young and you don't understand a lot, you don't live the moment. Maybe if it happened now when I'm a little older it would be different. But when you're younger it's like a dream."

Buffon has rejoined Juventus at age 41 after a season with Paris St-Germain and Branescu added: "He is the motivation for everybody. To play until his age, it's mentality. You have the experience and if you are strong in the head you can fix everything."

No persuasion needed from Alessio

Branescu revealed he almost signed for Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United as a youngster after a successful trial - "everything was agreed" - before red tape scuppered the deal and he ended up in Turin.

He has no regrets over that setback and did not need any persuading from Alessio to become the Italian's first signing at Rugby Park.

"When I heard about the chance to come here I said yes straight away," he said. "I didn't speak with the manager before agreeing to come to Scotland.

"Last time I met him was the Champions League final in Cardiff [2017]. We spoke for a few minutes but I never expected he would be a head coach in the future, so it was a surprise.

"I hope he will be like Conte and have a great career. Kilmarnock is a very good place for him to start, they have a good team from what I've seen in my few days here.

"I never go to a club and manager tells me you are number one or two. We must fight for the position."

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