Italy’s Ace Goalkeeper

Full Name: Gianluigi Buffon
Birthdate: January 28, 1978
Place of Birth: Italy
Playing years: 1995 to Present
Position: Goalkeeper

Awards:

Golden Foot Award
Best FIFA Goalkeeper
IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper Awards (5)
Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Awards (11)
Best European Goalkeeper Awards (2)

Formative years

Gianluigi Buffon was born in Italy and he grew up among a family of athletes. At the age of six, he was enrolled in a football training school where his precocious talent started to develop. He first started in outfield positions but shifted interest to being a keeper mostly due to his idol, Thomas N’Kono (years later, he would name one of his sons after the Cameroon player). He joined Parma’s youth team in 1992 and gradually had starting lineup appearances. He played a crucial role in Parma’s UEFA Cup win over Marseille and Coppa Italia win against Fiorentina in 1999. Buffon’s spectacular display of skills that season earned him his first Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Award and his first Ballon d’Or nomination.

Notable Skills/Style of Play

– Excellent positioning
– Acrobatic dives
– Decisive saves
– Remarkable footwork
– Reliable ball distribution
– Tactical field intelligence

Football Career

Juventus

Italy’s very own “Superman” was signed by Juventus in 2001 for a hefty sum of €52 million. His father egged him on to join The Old Lady, saying he may just achieve his dream of winning the Scudetto with the team. Tha remark later proved to be prophetic. In his first season, Juventus won the Serie A title and they ended the campaign with the top defense in Italy. They again snagged the crown in season 2002-2003 and Buffon only conceded 23 goals for the entire run. His stellar performances that year earned him several plaudits. He was awarded his fourth Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year, the UEFA Best Goalkeeper Award, and his first IFFHS World Best Goalkeeper.

In 2006, Buffon and other players were charged with illegal betting on the infamous Calciopoli scandal. As punishment, the team’s two consecutive Serie A titles were stripped and they were relegated to Serie B. Despite this setback, Buffon elected to stay on with the team and he was officially selected as Italy’s starting goalkeeper for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He led the inspired squad to the championship and finished the tournament with the Yashin Award as the top goalkeeper. He also placed second in the Ballon d’Or behind Italy teammate Fabio Cannavaro by the end of that year.

After Juventus conquered the 2006-2007 season of Serie B, they were propelled back to top flight. Buffon experienced several injuries during this time and was seen despondent. Parting rumors began to swirl but Buffon reiterated that he had no intention of leaving the club just yet. Under new manager Antonio Conte, the Juventus team ushered in a new era of field supremacy by 2011. With Buffon keeping a league record of 21 clean sheets, Juventus managed to end the season unbeaten and claimed their first Scudetto and Supercoppa Italiana since relegation. Buffon lifted the trophy as the new captain after Alessandro Del Piero’s departure. In 2015, he won his first Coppa Italia with the club and he became part of the 2014-2015 UEFA Champions League Team of the season.

After 17 glittering years and over 500 career appearances with the Bianconeri, Buffon confirmed his last game for the club in match against Hellas Verona. The 40-year-old keeper has stated he will finish his adventure with two trophies and that he has been given offers on and off the pitch.

Seventh Scudetto and Transfer Talks

Before his final Juventus appearance, Buffon went around the Allianz Stadium greeting people up close and accepting gifts from fans. He was substituted at the hour mark and was in tears when the crowd gave him an emotional standing ovation for his send-off. The Maradona of goalkeepers’ farewell was crowned with Juventus’ record-breaking seventh straight Serie A title win and a domestic treble. This latest success takes his tally to nine Italian titles. Some sources confirmed that the football icon is close to joining French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on a £7m contract as they look to strengthen their Champions League bid. This career move will put him side by side with Kylian Mbappe and former Barcelona star Neymar. It was previously thought that he’d be retiring from football entirely but the sensational stopper has stated that some interesting proposals have arrived; that he lives to take himself out of his comfort zone and face exciting challenges.

Where will we see this marvelous goalkeeper next? After his momentous years in Bianconeri, his successor in the post sure has big gloves to fill.

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