Buffon playing for Italy in 2012
|Date of birth||28 January 1978|
|Place of birth||Carrara, Italy|
|Height||1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 2 March 2014.
† Appearances (Goals).
Gianluigi "Gigi" Buffon, Ufficiale OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒidʒi bufˈfon]; born 28 January 1978), is an Italian goalkeeper who plays for and captains both Serie A club Juventus and the Italy national team. He is the record appearance holder for Italy, and widely considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Buffon is known for his "outstanding shot-stopping" and for being "a vocal organizer of the defense and a key dressing room personality."
Buffon was declared by Pelé to be one of the 125 greatest living footballers in the world. He has been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record eight times and was the winner of the 2006 Yashin Award following Italy's World Cup victory, in which Buffon was also elected to be part of the Team of the Tournament; an honour which he also received after reaching the final of the 2012 European Championships. Buffon is the only goalkeeper to have won the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year Award, which he won in 2003; he also won the award for best Goalkeeper that year and was voted into the UEFA Team of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2006. In 2006, Buffon was runner-up for the Ballon d'Or and was elected to be part of the FIFPro World XI in 2006 and 2007.
Buffon became the most expensive goalkeeper in history in 2001 when he joined Juventus from Parma for €45 million (£32.6m). He has been named the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics) goalkeeper of the year four times and was also named goalkeeper of the 21st century and of the decade. Buffon was selected for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which was his record fifth World Cup finals call up, and his fourth World Cup as Italy's starting goalkeeper.
- 1 Club career
- 1.1 Youth career and beginnings at Parma
- 1.2 1996–2001: Making the starting eleven at Parma, early success and recognition
- 1.3 Juventus
- 2 International career
- 2.1 Youth career, early call-ups and Euro 2000 qualification
- 2.2 Trapattoni era: World Cup and European Championship debut
- 2.3 Lippi era: 2006 world champion
- 2.4 After the World Cup victory: Donadoni, and Lippi's return
- 2.5 Prandelli era: Italy captain and Euro 2012 runner-up
- 2.6 World Cup 2014 Qualifying and 2013 Confederations Cup under Prandelli
- 2.7 2014 World Cup under Prandelli
- 3 Style of play and reputation
- 4 Controversy
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Career statistics
- 7 Honours
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Youth career and beginnings at Parma
Buffon began his career with the youth system of Parma in 1991 at the age of 13. He initially played as a midfielder before switching to the position of goalkeeper. His idol Thomas N'Kono, who was the Cameroon national team's starting goalkeeper in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, inspired this change of position.
He graduated from the youth squad in 1995 and at the age of 17, he made his Serie A debut for Parma, keeping a clean sheet in a 0–0 home draw against eventual Serie A Champions Milan on 19 November 1995. Buffon made notable saves against Ballon d'Or winners Roberto Baggio and George Weah, as well as Marco Simone, throughout the match. He went on to make eight more first team appearances that season as well as one appearance in the Coppa Italia as Parma were eliminated in the second round. Parma finished in sixth place in Serie A that season, qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Parma also reached the quarter-finals of the 1995–96 European Cup Winners' Cup that season, although Buffon did not make any appearances in that tournament.
1996–2001: Making the starting eleven at Parma, early success and recognition
In the 1996–97 Serie A season, his second full season with the club, Buffon was named as the starting goalkeeper ahead of Luca Bucci, as well as Alessandro Nista, and he would eventually go on to make well over 200 appearances for Parma in all competitions during his time at the club. Parma finished the 1996–97 season as runners-up to Serie A Champions Juventus, allowing them to qualify for the UEFA Champions League the following season. Buffon conceded 17 goals in 27 appearances, and his performances began to gain attention in Italy. Parma were once again eliminated in the second round of the Coppa Italia and in the first round of the UEFA Cup that season.
In the 1997–98 season, Parma finished in fifth place in Serie A and reached the Coppa Italia semi-finals, whilst they were knocked out in the group stage of the Champions League, finishing second in their group to defending champions Borussia Dortmund. Buffon acquired his nickname "Superman" during this season when he stopped a penalty by Inter striker and Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo with a notable flying, diving save. Buffon celebrated the save by running towards the crowd, and showing the Parma fans a Superman t-shirt which he was wearing underneath his jersey. The nickname was also a reference to Buffon's consistent performances throughout the season, as well as his athleticism, agility and aerial ability.
In his fourth season with the club, Buffon won his first European trophy, the UEFA Cup, keeping a clean-sheet in the final against Marseille, which ended in a 3-0 win for Parma. Buffon also won the Coppa Italia with Parma that season, defeating Fiorentina on away goals in the final, and overcoming Inter in the semi-finals, keeping a clean sheet in the first leg. Parma finished the Serie A season in fourth place, one point from Fiorentina in the third place spot. Buffon's performances that season earned him his first Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Award and the Bravo Award, the trophy given to the best Under 23 player in Europe. Buffon also placed fifth in the IFFHS goalkeeper of the year rankings, and received his first ever Ballon d'Or nomination.
In the following season, he won his first Supercoppa Italiana title against Serie A Champions Milan and Parma finished the Serie A season in fourth place, tied with Inter for the final remaining Champions League spot. Parma however lost to Inter on aggregate in the playoff matches failing to qualify for the Champions League Group Stage. They started in the third and final qualifying round of the Champions League and were knocked out by Rangers. They were knocked out in the round of 16 of both the UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia that season.
In the 2000–01 season, Buffon helped lead Parma to another Coppa Italia Final, in which they were defeated by Fiorentina. They were eliminated in the third round of the UEFA Cup that season. Parma also finished the season in fourth place for the third consecutive season, which allowed them to go through to the Champions League qualifying round. Buffon was voted Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time in his career. Buffon also placed third in the IFFHS Goalkeeper of the year award. In 2001, Buffon was also nominated for the Ballon d'Or for the second time in his career.
In the summer of 2001, Buffon was sold to Juventus for a world-record goalkeeper's transfer fee of 100 billion lire, (€51,645,690) (Or €51.956 million including other minor cost that could be capitalized) with part of the transfer fees paid via the transfer of Jonathan Bachini to Parma.
2001–2004: Dominance under Lippi
Buffon transferred from Parma to Juventus in the summer of 2001 for €51 million and was handed the number 1 shirt as the starting goalkeeper, replacing former keeper Edwin van der Sar, who had been sold to Fulham. Buffon later said that there had been an initial possibility for him to join Roma, but they signed Ivan Pelizzoli instead, and although negotiations were ongoing with Barcelona, he chose Juventus because his father convinced him he would be likely to achieve his ambition of winning the Scudetto with Juventus.
In his first season with Juventus, Buffon appeared in 45 official matches, helping his team to the Serie A title, as Juventus finished the season with the best defence in Italy, with Buffon only conceding 22 goals in 34 matches. Juventus also finished as runners-up in the Coppa Italia that season to Buffon's former club Parma. Juventus were, however, eliminated in the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Buffon was awarded his third Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Award at the end of the season for his performances.
At the beginning of the 2002–03 season, Juventus won the 2002 Supercoppa Italiana against Parma, avenging the Coppa Italia final defeat of the previous season. Buffon had a dominant year, totalling 47 appearances in all competitions, of which 32 were in Serie A that season. He helped Juventus to the UEFA Champions League Final, only for his team to lose in a penalty shoot-out to Milan after a 0–0 draw. Buffon managed to save two penalties, but Milan won the shootout 3–2. Buffon drew praise, however, for making a notable reactions save on a close-range header by Filippo Inzaghi during the final. During the knockout stages, Juventus had also previously eliminated Barcelona in the quarter-finals, and defending champions Real Madrid in the semi-finals. Buffon saved a crucial Luis Figo penalty in the second leg of the semi-finals, in Turin, which allowed Juventus to progress to the final, winning 4–3 on aggregate. Juventus were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia by Perugia, although they did manage to celebrate their second consecutive Serie A title in two years, that season. Juventus once again finished the season with the best defence, with Buffon conceding 23 goals in 32 appearances. In 2003, Buffon received the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the fourth time. He also became the first and only goalkeeper ever to win the now defunct UEFA Most Valuable Player or UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award, and won the UEFA Best Goalkeeper award, being elected as part of the UEFA Team of the Year for the first time. He was also named the IFFHS Goalkeeper of the Year for the first time in his career. Buffon was also nominated for the 2003 Ballon d'Or that season, finishing in 9th place, as the award went to Juventus team mate Pavel Nedvěd.
Buffon began the 2003–04 season by avenging the Champions League final loss of the previous season as Juventus defeated Milan on penalties in the 2003 Supercoppa Italiana, with Buffon saving a penalty in the shootout. Juventus were eliminated in the round of 16 of the Champions League that season by Deportivo La Coruña and finished the Serie A season in a disappointing 3rd place, although they managed to reach the Coppa Italia Final, losing to Lazio. He was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004 and was named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the fifth time. He was once again elected as the Goalkeeper for the UEFA Team of the Year and as the IFFHS Goalkeeper of the Year. Buffon also received his first ever FIFA World Player of the Year nomination in 2004, finishing in 21st place alongside compatriot Maldini, whilst he placed 17th in the Ballon d'Or that year. In 2013, Buffon claimed to have suffered with bouts of depression during the 2003-04 season, in particular due to the disappointment of Juventus's penalty shoot-out defeat in the Champion's League final of the previous season, as well as due to Juventus's negative performance and the pressure he faced. Buffon stated that regularly visited a psychologist over the course of the season and overcame his depression prior to the Euro 2004 tournament.
2004–2006: Capello, Calciopoli and relegation
In the summer of 2004, Lippi left Juventus to take charge of the Italian National Team and was replaced by manager Fabio Capello. In his fourth season with the club, Buffon made 38 appearances in Serie A and 48 in all competitions that season as he won his third Serie A title in four years with Juventus, winning once again the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year award for the sixth time in his career, also receiving Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations. Juventus were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against eventual winners Liverpool and in the round of 16 of the Coppa Italia.
In August 2005, Buffon collided with Milan attacking-midfielder Kaká during the annual pre-season Trofeo Luigi Berlusconi match and suffered a dislocated shoulder, requiring surgery, ruling him out of Juventus' defeat to Inter in the 2005 Supercoppa Italiana. After a successful operation, he returned to the starting line-up in November, but suffered a second injury, sidelining him again until January. Milan's goalkeeper, Christian Abbiati, was loaned to the club, to fill in for the injured Buffon, who managed to recover in time to help participate in winning Juventus’ second consecutive Serie A title in two years and his fourth overall with the club. Juventus were however once again knocked out in the quarter finals of the Champions League to runners up Arsenal and in the quarter finals of the Coppa Italia on away goals to runners up Roma, although he would later help lead Italy to victory at the 2006 World Cup. Buffon was named IFFHS Goalkeeper of the Year for the third time in his career and Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the seventh time. He was also placed second in the 2006 Ballon d'Or and eighth in the FIFA World Player of the Year Award behind his winning Italy team mate Fabio Cannavaro, and was elected as the starting goalkeeper for both the 2006 FIFPro XI and the UEFA Team of the Year.
On 12 May 2006, several players, including Buffon, were accused of participating in illegal betting on Serie A matches. Buffon voluntarily co-operated, allowing himself to be interrogated by Turin magistrates. While admitting that he did place bets on sporting matches (until regulations went into effect in late 2005, banning players from doing so), he vehemently denied placing wagers on Italian football matches. Despite initial concerns that he had jeopardised his chance of playing for Italy in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he was officially named Italy's starting goalkeeper on 15 May and helped lead Italy to win their fourth title. Buffon was cleared of all charges by the FIGC on 27 June 2007. Following Juventus' punishment in the Calciopoli scandal, in which their two most recent Serie A titles were stripped and the squad were relegated to Serie B and penalised with a point deduction, rumours spread that Buffon would be placed on the transfer market. Buffon elected to remain with Juventus, despite the team's relegation, a decision which made him extremely popular with the Juventus fans.
2007–2010: Serie B champions and return to Serie A
After Juventus won the Serie B title in the 2006–07 season, promoting them back to Serie A, Buffon signed a contract extension with Juventus until 2012. Despite not having played in Serie A or in Europe that season, and only reaching the third round of the Coppa Italia, he was elected as the goalkeeper for the 2007 FIFPro XI for the second consecutive year and the IFFHS Goalkeeper of the year for a record breaking fourth time. Buffon was also nominated for the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Award, finishing 10th, and placed 19th in the 2007 Ballon d'Or.
Buffon was a key player for Juventus in the 2007–08 Serie A season, as he helped Juventus to a third place finish as well as UEFA Champions League qualification in their first season back in the top flight. Juventus lost to runners-up Inter in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals. Buffon was named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the eighth time in his career. Buffon was also nominated for the Ballon d'Or in 2008 for the sixth consecutive time in his career since 2003, finishing in 18th place, and ranked 22nd in the FIFA World Player of the Year Award.
In 2008–09 Serie A, Buffon was once again sidelined by several injuries, having problems with his back but principally a bad groin strain and a pulled muscle. From September through January, new Juventus reserve keeper Alexander Manninger held his position between the sticks, gaining praise for his deputizing. Due to recurring injuries, Manninger’s performances and Juventus's poor form towards the end of the season (as Buffon was seen despondent whilst the team drew with both Lecce and Atalanta), there were further rumours that Buffon was displeased and wanted to part ways with the club. He admitted he was disappointed with the current results, but assured that he had no intention of leaving. After a discussion with management, he said he was reassured about the future of Juventus and signed a year extension to 2013. Buffon and Juventus finished the season on a high note however, with two victories, allowing them to finish in second place, behind Inter. They were knocked out of the Coppa Italia semi-finals by eventual champions Lazio and of the UEFA Champions League in the Round of 16 by semi-finalists Chelsea. Buffon was nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 for the sixth consecutive season since first being nominated in 2004, finishing in 15th place.
Juventus and Buffon began the 2009–10 Serie A season strongly, although the squad suffered a severe dip in form as they were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League, finishing third in their group. They were subsequently eliminated in the Round of 16 of the Europa League against Fulham. Juventus were knocked out in the Quarter Finals of the Coppa Italia to eventual Champions Inter and finished the Serie A season in a disappointing seventh place, meaning that they had to qualify for the 2010–11 Europa League through the playoff round. Buffon was often sidelined that season, having endured several recurring injuries. In 2010, Buffon was voted goalkeeper of the decade by IFFHS.
Buffon did not play for the first half of the 2010–11 Serie A season as he was recovering from surgery from an injury from the World Cup. His new deputy, Marco Storari, replaced him throughout the injury. Juventus were knocked out of the Europa League group stage with 6 draws, the Coppa Italia in the quarter finals and finished the Serie A season in seventh place, failing to qualify for Europe for the first time since the 1990–91 Season.
2011–2014: The Conte era and the return to victory in Serie A
During the 2011–12 season under new manager and former club midfielder Antonio Conte, Juventus were once again a dominating force in Serie A. Buffon re-found his form, and made numerous notable and important saves during the season, including stopping a penalty kick from Francesco Totti, which impeded Roma from taking the lead in an eventual 1–1 draw in Rome. Buffon's fine form at the end of the first half of the season allowed him to be elected as Juventus' the player of the month in December 2011 by fans. A clean sheet in Juventus's Derby d'Italia victory over rivals Inter in the Derby d'Italia took Buffon to his 15th shutout in 27 matches, with an average of just over one goal conceded every two matches. After the match he was described as "the best goal-keeper in Italy and probably the World." Juventus eventually finished the season unbeaten, winning their first Scudetto since the Calciopoli scandal, allowing them to participate once again in the UEFA Champions League the following season after a two-year absence. Buffon described it as the second highest point of his career, after the 2006 World Cup victory. He obtained 21 clean sheets and only conceded 16 goals from 35 appearances (an average of 0.46 goals per game) as Juventus became the European team with the second best defence that season, after Porto. Buffon made 81 saves in Serie A that season and his 82 percent save percentage was the highest of any goalkeeper playing in one of Europe's five major leagues. Buffon was included in the 2011–12 Serie A Team of the Season for his performances. Juventus also made the Coppa Italia Final that season, although Buffon did not play in this competition, allowing second keeper Marco Storari to compete for the trophy. Juventus were runners-up to Napoli in the final.
On 11 August 2012, Buffon lifted his first trophy as the new Juventus captain, following Alessandro Del Piero's departure. Juventus defeated Napoli 4–2 in extra time in the 2012 Supercoppa Italiana Final in Beijing. Buffon suffered a minor injury and was not able to partake in the first Serie A match of the 2012–13 season against Parma on 25 August 2012. He was replaced by Marco Storari and Juventus won the match 2–0. He returned to the starting line-up for the next match against Udinese in Udine on 2 September, wearing the captain's armband. Juventus won the match 4–1. On 20 September, for Juventus' first UEFA Champions League match of the season against current title holders Chelsea in London, Buffon made his 400th Club appearance for Juventus across all competitions. The match ended in a 2–2 draw. Buffon obtained his first clean sheet of the season in a 2–0 home win against Chievo on 22 September. Buffon was nominated for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or and the 2012 UEFA Team of the Year, along with Juventus and Italy team mate Andrea Pirlo, following his performances throughout the calendar year. Buffon eventually placed 16th in the Ballon d'Or that year, following his 9th career nomination for the award. He obtained his first Champion's League clean sheet against Nordsjaelland on 7 November, a match which Juventus won 4–0 at the Juventus Stadium. He also kept clean sheets as Juventus beat defending champions Chelsea 3–0 at home, and also in Juventus' 1–0 away win against Shakhtar Donetsk, which allowed Juventus to top their group undefeated and advance to the knockout stages for first time since the 2008–09 tournament. This was also Buffon's 100th club appearance in European Competitions. Buffon kept a clean sheet in a 1–0 Coppa Italia win against Cagliari, the only goal of the match coming from team mate Sebastian Giovinco, allowing Juventus to progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament. On 16 December, Juventus defeated Atalanta 3–0, allowing Juventus to once again claim the unofficial title of 'Serie A Winter Champions', with the best defence in Serie A, having only conceded 10 goals in 17 matches. This was also Buffon's 20th clean sheet in 2012, the most of any other goalkeeper in Europe. Buffon was voted second in the IFFHS goalkeeper of the year award, behind Spanish Euro 2012 winning goalkeeper Iker Casillas and was named as goalkeeper of the century by the same organisation, ahead of Casillas by a single point. On 23 January 2013, Buffon signed a contract extension with Juventus, keeping him at the club until 2015. On 27 January 2013, Buffon was awarded the Serie A goalkeeper of the year award for the ninth time in his career, for his performances during the 2011–12 season. Juventus retained their Serie A title that season, and finished the league once again with the least beaten defence, with Buffon conceding just 19 goals. The Serie A victory meant that Buffon lifted the Serie A trophy as captain for the first time, as Alessandro Del Piero had left Juventus at the end of the previous season. Juventus were eliminated in the semifinals of the Coppa Italia to winners Lazio, and in the quarter-finals of the Champions League to winners Bayern Munich.
On the 18th of August, 2013, Juventus began the 2013–14 season by defending their Supercoppa Italiana title, at the Stadio Olimpico, in Rome. Juventus defeated Coppa Italia winners Lazio 4–0, with Buffon keeping a clean sheet in the competition for the first time. Buffon was praised for his goalkeeping, making several difficult and important saves. Buffon also went on to keep a clean sheet in Juventus's win in their opening Serie A match against Sampdoria, in Genoa, on August 24, which ended 0–1. Buffon was nominated, along with fellow Italians Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli, for the 50 player shortlist for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or. On the 24th November, Buffon made his 500th appearance in Serie A, keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 away win against Livorno. On the 6th December, Buffon recorded his seventh consecutive clean sheet, and his ninth of the season. As a result, he bettered his previous personal record of 568 minutes without conceding a goal in Serie A, and has currently gone 640 without being beaten in the Italian League. He extended this record with yet another clean sheet in a 4-0 home win against Sassuolo, not having conceded a goal for 730 minutes. With this clean sheet, Buffon's unbeaten streak became the eighth best unbeaten streak in Serie A history. He bettered this record for 15 minutes more, but was finally beaten by Maxi Moralez. Juventus went on to defeat Atalanta 4-1. Buffon's unbeaten streak of 745 minutes is the sixth best in Serie A history. Buffon was nominated for the 2013 FIFPro XI, as well as Juventus team mates Chiellini, Vidal and Pirlo, for his performances throughout the calendar year. For a second consecutive season, Buffon was named as the second best goalkeeper in the world by IFFHS, behind German national goalkeeper and 2012-13 Champion's League and FIFPro Goalkeeper of the year winner Manuel Neuer. This was also the fourteenth consecutive year that Buffon was voted one of the top give goalkeepers in the world. Buffon lifted the Serie A title for the third consecutive year, captaining the team to their thirtieth league title. During the 2013-14 season, Juventus managed an Italian record of 102 points, including a Serie A record of 33 victories. Juventus also finished with the best defence of the league, yet again, conceding 23 goals. Buffon managed 89 saves and 18 clean sheets in 33 appearances during the Serie A season, and conceded 19 goals, obtaining the highest save percentage of any keeper with ten caps or more. Juventus disappointed in Europe, however, and were eliminated in the group stage of the Champion's League, failing to keep a clean sheet, and finishing third in a group made up of finalists Real Madrid, as well as Galatasaray and Copenhagen. Juventus did however manage to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League that season, losing out to Benfica. They were also eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia by Roma. Buffon was chosen as part of the 2013-14 Europa League Team of the Season, for his performances throughout the tournament. On the 1st July, 2014, Buffon signed a contract extension that would keep him at the club until 2017.
2014-15 Season under Allegri
In the summer of 2014, Antonio Conte left Juventus after winning his third consecutive Serie A title as the club's manager, taking up the position as the manager of the Italian national side, which had recently been vacated by Cesare Prandelli following Italy's early exit from the 2014 World Cup. Former Milan manager, Massimiliano Allegri, was called in as a replacement. Juventus opened the 2014-15 Serie A season under Allegri with a 1-0 away win over Chievo Verona, with Buffon helping Juventus to keep a clean-sheet and producing a notable save on Maxi Lopez late in the second half.
Youth career, early call-ups and Euro 2000 qualification
Buffon was a member of Italy's 1996 UEFA under-21 championship winning squad. The squad also contained Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta and Francesco Totti, who ten years later would, along with Buffon, be members of Italy's 2006 FIFA World Cup winning team. He was also selected as the backup goalkeeper for Italy's 1996 Olympic team. However, Italy did not qualify for the second round, losing their opening two matches to Mexico and Ghana.
Buffon was awarded his first cap for Italy's senior team under Cesare Maldini on 29 October 1997, at the age of nineteen, as an injury replacement for Gianluca Pagliuca during the first leg of the crucial 1998 World Cup qualification play-off against Russia played in Moscow. Buffon made notable saves under snowy conditions in an important 1–1 away draw, only being beaten by an own goal by Fabio Cannavaro. The result helped Italy to qualify for the upcoming World Cup. He was a member of the squad for the 1998 World Cup finals, initially as the third choice goalkeeper. After Peruzzi's injury, he was promoted to second choice keeper, with Toldo being called up as the third choice keeper, but Buffon did not play a single game as Pagliuca remained first choice throughout the tournament. Italy were eliminated in the quarter-finals on penalties to hosts and eventual 1998 World Cup Champions France.
Buffon became the first choice goalkeeper during the Euro 2000 qualifying campaign and was due to start in goal during the finals under manager and former Italy goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff, but he broke his hand in a warm up match against Norway, just a few days before Italy's opening match against Turkey. His starting place was taken by backup goalkeeper Francesco Toldo and Christian Abbiati was called up as a replacement third keeper, with Francesco Antonioli being promoted to second keeper. Italy reached the final of the tournament, losing once again to France on a golden goal in extra time, with the match ending 2–1.
Trapattoni era: World Cup and European Championship debut
Toldo's impressive performances at Euro 2000 (which included a match winning performance in the semi-final against hosts the Netherlands; a game in which Toldo saved one penalty in regular time and two penalties, including the decisive spot kick, in the resulting shootout), after which he was elected as part of the Team of the Tournament and both the Serie A goalkeeper and the IFFHS goalkeeper of the year, meant that he retained his place in the team for the beginning of Italy's 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign. However, Buffon regained the goalkeeping spot for the fourth match of the qualification series, away to Romania, and was the starting goalkeeper for the remaining four matches under Giovanni Trapattoni as Italy qualified with an unbeaten record.
Buffon played every minute of Italy's 2002 World Cup campaign, keeping a clean-sheet in the opening match against Ecuador, and saving a controversial penalty against co-hosts South Korea in the Round of 16, which was not enough to stop the under-performing side from being eliminated by a golden goal in extra time. He also featured in every match in 2004 European Championships, keeping a clean-sheet against Denmark, though Italy, despite not losing a match, once again underperformed, and were eliminated in the first round on direct encounters following a three way 5 point tie with Sweden and Denmark.
Lippi era: 2006 world champion
During the 2006 World Cup finals, Buffon was in stunning form, as he conceded a World Cup record two goals in seven matches, and kept five clean sheets, in addition to a 453-minute scoreless streak, which was only 64 minutes short of compatriot Zenga's all-time unbeaten record from 1990. The only goals he conceded were not in open play; an own goal by teammate Cristian Zaccardo after a free-kick against the United States in Italy's second match of the group stage, and a Zinedine Zidane penalty in the final against France, which was awarded after dubious contact in the area between Materazzi and Malouda. Buffon made a notable and important save in extra time on a header from eventual Golden Ball winner Zinedine Zidane. The match ended 1–1 after extra-time and was followed by a penalty shootout in which neither Buffon nor Fabien Barthez saved a spot kick. The lone miss was David Trezeguet's effort which hit the bottom of the crossbar and failed to cross the line, enabling Italy's Fabio Grosso to seal the victory for Italy. Buffon received the Yashin Award as the best goalkeeeper of the tournament, for his accomplishments throughout the competition, producing an impressive 40 saves, and was elected to be part of the Team of the Tournament. Buffon recorded five clean sheets in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, bringing him to career total of six. Buffon also finished second to compatriot Cannavaro in the 2006 Ballon d'Or and 8th in the FIFA World Player of the Year for his performances that season and was selected to be the goalkeeper for the 2006 FIFPro World XI and the 2006 UEFA Team of the Year.
After the World Cup victory: Donadoni, and Lippi's return
Buffon was named Italy captain under Roberto Donadoni for Euro 2008 after incumbent Fabio Cannavaro was ruled out of the tournament due to injury. In the second game of the group stage against Romania on 13 June, he saved an 81st minute penalty from Adrian Mutu as the match ended 1–1 to keep Italy's hopes alive. Buffon kept a clean sheet against France in the final group game, helping Italy to a 2–0 win, allowing them to advance to the quarter-finals. Italy were eliminated in the quarter-finals nine days later, when a 0–0 draw after extra-time led to a 4–2 penalty shootout loss to eventual champions Spain. Buffon saved one penalty in the shootout and was elected to be part of the team of the tournament.
Upon Lippi's return, Buffon was confirmed as the starting keeper. He played all three group matches during Italy's disappointing 2009 Confederations Cup Campaign in South Africa, in which they finished third in their group in three-way three point tie. He retained his position and earned his 100th cap on 14 November 2009 in a friendly match against the Netherlands. He was a key player in Italy's World Cup Qualifying campaign as they finished top of their group, undefeated.
In the 2010 World Cup, Buffon was replaced at half-time in Italy's 1–1 draw in their opening group stage match against Paraguay after he had a problem with his sciatic nerve. He did not play again in the tournament and was substituted by his deputy Federico Marchetti. Italy disappointed and failed to win a match. They were eliminated from the World Cup, finishing last in their group with two points. Lippi was dismissed after the World Cup.
Prandelli era: Italy captain and Euro 2012 runner-up
After the international retirement of Cannavaro, Buffon became the new captain of the national team under the new manager Cesare Prandelli. On 9 February 2011, after recovering from a back injury, Buffon played his first game as official captain in the friendly match against Germany played in Dortmund. On 6 September, 2011, after a 1–0 Italy win over Slovenia, Buffon established the new record for most minutes without conceding a goal in European Championship Qualifying matches, going 644 minutes without conceding a goal. The win also allowed Italy to qualify for Euro 2012 with two qualifying group matches left. On 15 November 2011, in a friendly match against Uruguay, Buffon surpassed Dino Zoff's number of caps for Italy (112), putting him behind only the retired former Italy captains Fabio Cannavaro and Paolo Maldini. He was subsequently selected as Italy's starting goalkeeper and captain for Euro 2012, along with six other Juventus players, after leading Italy as captain to qualify for the tournament undefeated in their group and in official competitive matches under Prandelli, only having conceded 2 goals during the qualifying group stage.
At Euro 2012, Buffon acted as captain during the entire tournament. He kept a clean-sheet against the Republic of Ireland in the third group-stage match, and against England, saving a crucial penalty from Ashley Cole in the quarterfinal shootout, in which he was elected man of the match. In the semi-final match against Germany, Buffon made several important saves, only being beaten by a penalty by Mesut Özil in the 92nd minute. Italy won the match 2–1 and advanced to the final against defending European and World Champions Spain, with whom Italy had drawn 1–1 in the opening group stage match, only having conceded 3 goals. The semi-final victory automatically qualified Italy for the 2013 Confederations Cup regardless of the result in the final, since Spain had previously won the 2010 World Cup. Italy were beaten 4–0 in the final as Spain claimed a record third consecutive major trophy, and their second consecutive European Championship title. Buffon was once again chosen to be part of the team of the tournament for his performances.
World Cup 2014 Qualifying and 2013 Confederations Cup under Prandelli
On 26 March 2013, in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match against Malta, Buffon earned his 126th cap for Italy, equaling azzurri legend Paolo Maldini's number of caps for the national team. In the same match, Buffon saved a penalty by Michael Mifsud, which he had originally conceded, helping Italy to a 0–2 away win. He later surpassed Maldini's number of caps on 31 May 2013, in a friendly against San Marino, which Italy won 4-0. This put him in second place only behind Fabio Cannavaro, with 136 caps for Italy.
Buffon was included in the Italian squad for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil and played in every match of the tournament as captain. On 16 June 2013, Buffon was in goal for Italy in the opening game against Mexico in a 2–1 win for the Italians, where he was beaten only by a Javier Hernandez penalty. In the next game on 19 June 2013, against Japan in a 4–3 win for Italy, the referee awarded Japan a penalty in the 20th minute of the first half, when he declared that Shinji Okazaki had been brought down by Buffon after a misplaced back pass by De Sciglio; Buffon received a yellow card. The eventual 4–3 win allowed Italy to progress to the semifinals of the competition for the first time, regardless of the result of the final group match against eventual winners Brazil, which ended in a 4–2 loss to Italy. Italy faced Spain in the semi-final, in a rematch of the European Championship Final of the previous year, but lost 7–6 in the resulting penalty shootout, after a full-time score of 0–0. Although both Buffon and Casillas had managed to keep a clean sheet throughout the match, neither keeper was able to stop a penalty in the shootout; the lone miss, by Buffon's Juventus team mate Leonardo Bonucci, was hit over the crossbar. In the 3rd-place match, Italy defeated Uruguay by 3–2 in the penalty shootout after a 2–2 deadlock after extra time. Buffon saved three penalty shots; those taken by Diego Forlán, Juventus team mate Martín Cáceres and Walter Gargano. However, despite helping Italy to a bronze medal finish, Buffon did not receive the man of the match award. It was awarded to Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, who had scored both of Uruguay's goals in the match. Buffon also missed out on winning the Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper of the tournament, which was given to Brazil goalkeeper and 2013 Confederations Cup winner Julio Cesar.
On 6 September 2013, Buffon earned his 135th cap for Italy in the 2014 World Cup Qualifier against Bulgaria. This cap put him at only one cap from record appearance holder Fabio Cannavaro. Buffon kept a clean sheet for Italy in the 1–0 win and was praised, in particular by the media and Italy manager Cesare Prandelli, for making three important and difficult saves, earning a man of the match award. The win allowed Italy to move seven points clear in their qualifying group, needing only three more points to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying fixture against the Czech Republic, at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, on 10 of September, 2013, Buffon equaled Fabio Cannavaro as the Italian national football team record appearance holder with 136 caps for Italy. Italy won the match 2–1, allowing them to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as top of their group, with two games at hand; this was the first time that the Italian squad had qualified with two matches to spare. On 11 October, 2013, in a 2–2 World Cup Qualifier draw against Denmark, Buffon surpassed Cannavaro, becoming the sole record holder of appearances for Italy, with 137. He later finished the year with 138 caps for Italy, and his record number of appearances for Italy in a single calendar year. On 2 January, 2014, Buffon was awarded the 2013 "Pallone Azzurro" award, which is given to the player who is elected to have performed at the highest level during the past calendar year.
2014 World Cup under Prandelli
On 12 May, Buffon was named as part of Italy's 31-man preliminary World Cup squad, by Cesare Prandelli, and on 31 May, he was named the starting goalkeeper and captain in the final 23-man list. Italy were placed in Group D, in the so-called "group of death", with Costa Rica, England and Uruguay. The group was more commonly referred to as the "group of champions," as three of the four teams in the group had won at least one world cup.  Buffon became the third and, to this day, the last player to be part of five World Cup squads, tying the records held by Mexican goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal and German footballer Lothar Matthäus. Due to an ankle injury suffered in training, however, Buffon was not selected to start in Italy's first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup against England on 14 June 2014. He was replaced by Salvatore Sirigu, and, in Buffon's absence, Andrea Pirlo was given the duty of wearing the captain's armband in a 2–1 opening win over England. In Italy's next group match, which ended in a 1–0 loss to Costa Rica, he captained Italy for the first time at a World Cup. This was the fourth World Cup in which Buffon was able to make an appearance, allowing him to equal the Italian record for the number of World Cup appearances made previously by Rivera, Bergomi, Maldini and Cannavaro. In Italy's final group game against Uruguay, Buffon made several notable and important saves on Luis Suarez and Nicolas Lodeiro, as Italy were reduced to ten men following Marchisio's controversial red card, but he was eventually beaten in the 81st minute by Diego Godín's header off of a corner kick. Buffon was voted man of the match for his performance. Italy finished in a disappointing third place in their group, behind Costa Rica and Uruguay, which meant that they were eliminated in the group stage for a second consecutive World Cup, failing once again to keep a clean sheet.
Style of play and reputation
Buffon is widely considered by experts to be one of the most dominant and successful goalkeepers in history, having won numerous, prestigious individual and team awards, on several occasions. These include the UEFA Goalkeeper and UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, the IFFHS and Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Awards and the Yashin Award after his 2006 World Cup Victory with Italy. He has also won the FIFPro World XI Goalkeeper award and placed second in the 2006 Ballon d'Or. Buffon was named goalkeeper of the 21st Century and of the decade by IFFHS.
Buffon is a complete and consistent goalkeeper, who has been praised by managers, pundits, and present and former goalkeeping colleagues, for his concentration and longevity. He is often considered to be the prototype for the modern goalkeeper. He has been described as "an agile, strong, and commanding shot-stopper, who is hugely experienced at the highest level" and "an accomplished and well respected keeper" with "an excellent positional sense, courage, power, and class". He has been praised for his "outstanding shot-stopping", his acrobatic dives, and his quick reflexes, despite being such a large, imposing keeper. In his prime, he was also recognised for being very quick to rush off his line, and for his dominant aerial ability and handling, as well as reliable footwork and ball distribution skills, which occasionally led him to take on defenders in his youth. He is known for being "a vocal organizer of the defence, a true captain, a leader and a key dressing room personality".
While at Parma, Buffon's decision to wear the number 88 shirt, rather than his previous number 1 shirt, for the 2000–01 season caused controversy in Italy. However, Buffon claimed to be unaware of the number's neo-Nazi connotations, stating that 88 represented four balls, which are symbols of the character and attributes of a person. He stated that they were meant to signify his need for these attributes after his injury prior to Euro 2000, and that they also represented his "rebirth". He subsequently offered to change numbers, choosing the squad number 77, after carefully researching its meaning.
In a match against Lazio in September 1999, he had previously also faced heavy criticism and severe disciplinary sanctions for bearing the fascist slogan "Boia chi molla" (who gives up is a scoundrel) handwritten on a t-shirt under his goalkeeping jersey, which he proceeded to show to the fans after the match. Buffon publicly apologised, stating that it was a stupid and naive gesture, because he was completely ignorant of the slogan's neo-fascist connotations, stating that he had first encountered the slogan written on a boarding school desk, and was unaware of its far right-wing association and, in particular, its use with the neo-fascists in Reggio Calabria during the Reggio revolt in the early 1970s. He declared that he merely intended to use the slogan to spur on his team mates and the fans, as Parma had previously encountered some disappointing results.
On 12 May 2006, during the height of the Calciopoli scandal, Buffon was accused of illegally betting on Serie A matches, which initially put his place in Italy's 2006 World Cup squad at risk. Buffon was formally interrogated, and admitted placing bets on sporting matches, until players were forbidden from doing so in October 2005, but denied ever placing wagers on Italian football matches. He was cleared of all charges in December 2006.
Gianluigi Buffon was born into a family of Italian athletes. His mother, Maria Stella, was a discus thrower and his father, Adriano, was a weightlifter. Buffon’s two sisters, Veronica and Guendalina, played volleyball for the Italian National Volleyball Team, and his uncle, Dante Masocco, was a basketball player in Serie A1, who also represented the National Team. In addition to this, former Inter, Milan and Italy Goalkeeping legend Lorenzo Buffon is also a cousin of Gianluigi Buffon’s grandfather. Buffon is Catholic.
Buffon has been married to Czech model Alena Šeredová since June 2011, although they had been in a relationship together since 2005. They have two children, Louis Thomas (b. 2007, named after Buffon's idol Thomas N'Kono) and David Lee (b. 2009) In May 2014, Buffon announced that he is separating from his wife after three years of marriage. He has recently been romantically linked to the Italian sports pundit, journalist and television host Ilaria D'Amico.
- As of 11 May 2014
1Includes Coppa Italia.
3Includes Supercoppa Italiana.
- As of 26 June 2014
|Italy national team|
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Alessandro Del Piero