Buffon playing for Italy in 2012
|Full name||Gianluigi Buffon|
|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 3 March 2015.
† 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. Buffon is the record holder for most appearances for Italy. He is widely considered by players, pundits, and managers to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and by some, to be the greatest ever. He is also considered by some to be the best goalkeeper of his generation, and Italy's greatest ever goalkeeper. Buffon is known for his "outstanding shot-stopping" and for being "a vocal organizer of the defense and a key dressing room personality." He is currently the most expensive goalkeeper of all time following his £32.6m transfer from Parma to Juventus in 2001. Buffon also holds the record for the most clean sheets in Serie A, and with the Italian national team.
Buffon was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players in 2004. He has been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record nine 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.
He has been named the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics) goalkeeper of the year four times (second only behind Iker Casillas with five awards) and was also named the best goalkeeper of the 21st century, of the past twenty five years, and of the decade, by the same organisation. With the Italian national side, Buffon has been called up for an international record of five World Cup finals (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014), featuring in four of them as Italy's starting goalkeeper (Buffon was an unused substitute in the 1998 World Cup).
- 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
- 2.8 The Conte era: Euro 2016 qualification
- 3 Style of play and reputation
- 4 Controversy
- 5 Media
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Outside of professional football
- 8 Career statistics
- 9 Honours
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 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. During his time at Parma's youth academy, he initially played in several out-field positions, in particular as a midfielder, before switching to his current 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 when both of the team's keepers suddenly suffered injuries, and Buffon was called upon due to his height and physical attributes. Buffon quickly adapted to this role, and within two weeks he had been promoted to first keeper of the Parma youth team.
Buffon 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. Buffon went on to make seven more first team appearances that season as well as one appearance in the Coppa Italia, making his debut in the competition, as Parma were eliminated in the second round. Parma finished in sixth place in Serie A that season, qualifying for the UEFA Cup. During his time at Parma, Buffon trained under goalkeeping coach Villiam Vecchi, a person to whom Buffon attributes much of his confidence, development, and success.
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, and Alessandro Nista. Parma finished the 1996–97 season as runners-up in Serie A Juventus, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League the following season. Buffon conceded 17 goals in 27 appearances, and his consistent 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, where Buffon made his European debut in a 2–0 defeat to Vitória Guimarães on 24 September 1996.
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 save. Buffon celebrated the save by showing the Parma fans a Superman T-shirt, which he was wearing underneath his jersey. The nickname was also a reference to Buffon's 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. Parma finished the Serie A season in fourth place, which allowed them to reach the playoff round of the UEFA Champions League, although they were relegated to the UEFA Cup after losing to Rangers. Buffon's performances that season earned him his first Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Award, as well as 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; however, Parma lost to Inter 3–1 in the playoff match. 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 play-off round the following season. 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 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 capitalised) 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, along with former Parma team-mate Lilian Thuram, and was handed the number 1 shirt as the starting goalkeeper, replacing Edwin van der Sar, who was 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. This transfer fee made Buffon Juventus's most expensive purchase ever.
Buffon made his Juventus debut in Serie A during the 2001–02 season, on 26 August 2001, keeping a clean sheet in a 4–0 home win over Venezia in the opening match of the Serie A season. He kept two more clean sheets until he was beaten by Massimo Marazzina in a 3–2 home win over Chievo on the fourth match-day. 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 Serie A matches. Juventus also finished as runners-up in the Coppa Italia that season, to Buffon's former club, Parma; Buffon only made one appearance in the competition that season. 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, and he was nominated for the UEFA Team of the Year for the first time in his career, losing out to Rüştü Reçber.
At the beginning of the 2002-03 season, Juventus won the 2002 Supercoppa Italiana against Parma. Buffon had a dominant year, totalling 47 appearances in all competitions, of which 32 were in Serie A. 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. Buffon saved a Luis Figo penalty in the second leg of the semi-finals, against defending champions Real Madrid, in Turin. Juventus progressed to the final, winning 4–3 on aggregate. Juventus managed to celebrate their second consecutive Serie A title that season, finishing the season with the best defence yet again, as Buffon conceded only 23 goals in 32 appearances. In 2003, Buffon received the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the fourth time. He also became the only goalkeeper ever to win the now defunct UEFA Most Valuable Player or UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award. He also won the UEFA Best Goalkeeper award, and was elected to 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.
Buffon began the 2003–04 season with Juventus by defeating Milan on penalties in the 2003 Supercoppa Italiana, with Buffon saving a penalty in the shootout, after a 1-1 draw. 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. Buffon made his 100th appearance for Juventus that season on 30 September 2003, in a 2–1 away win over Olympiacos, in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. He was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004, but missed out on the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year award, which went to Milan's league winning keeper Dida. 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.
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 fifth time in his career. Juventus were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, against eventual winners Liverpool, and in 2005, Buffon was nominated for the UEFA Team of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.
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. Buffon managed to recover in time to help Juventus win their second consecutive Serie A title and his fourth overall, returning to the starting line-up in January 2006, in a Coppa Italia match against Fiorentina. 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. Buffon was named IFFHS Goalkeeper of the Year for the third time in his career and Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the sixth 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, following his 5th consecutive nomination. Buffon made his 200th appearance for Juventus that season in a 2–0 away defeat at the hands of Arsenal, in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
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 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 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. Buffon 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. During the Serie B season, Buffon received the first red card of his career in a match against AlbinoLeffe on 18 November 2006. Before the beginning of the 2007–08 Serie A season, Buffon renewed his contract with Juventus until 2012.
Buffon was a key player for Juventus in the 2007–08 Serie A season, their first back in the top flight, as he helped Juventus to a third place finish, and UEFA Champions League qualification. Juventus lost to runners-up Inter in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals. Buffon was named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the seventh 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, and the FIFA World Player of the Year Award. During this season, Buffon began to suffer problems with his back, caused by a herniated disc, which frequently keep him sidelined during the next few seasons. On 10 March 2008, Buffon renewed his contract until 2013, expressing his desire to win everything with the club.
In 2008–09 Serie A, Buffon was once again sidelined by several injuries. From September through January, reserve keeper Alexander Manninger held his position between the sticks, gaining praise for his deputising. 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 club's future and signed a contract extension to 2013. Buffon and Juventus finished the season on a high note, with two victories, finishing 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 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. Buffon made his 300th appearance for Juventus in a 3–3 home draw against Chievo in 2009.
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, only qualifying for the 2010–11 Europa League through the playoff round. Buffon was often sidelined that season, due to 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 after an injury endured during the World Cup, and he was replaced by his new deputy, Marco Storari. Juventus were knocked out of the Europa League group stage, 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 saves throughout the season, including stopping a penalty kick from Francesco Totti, which enabled Juventus to capture a crucial draw against Roma in Rome. Buffon's fine form at the end of the first half of the season saw elected Juventus's player of the month in December 2011 by fans. Buffon kept his 15th clean sheet of the season in Juventus's Derby d'Italia victory over rivals Inter in the Derby d'Italia; after the match, he was described as "the best goalkeeper in Italy and probably the World." Juventus finished the season unbeaten, winning their first Scudetto since the Calciopoli scandal, and qualifying for the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League after a two-year absence. Buffon described it as the second highest point of his career, after the 2006 World Cup victory.
Buffon obtained 21 clean sheets in Serie A, and only conceded a personal record of 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.
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 missed the first Serie A match of the 2012–13 season against Parma on 25 August 2012. 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, in Juventus's first UEFA Champions League match of the season against defending champions Chelsea, Buffon made his 400th appearance for Juventus; the match ended in a 2–2 away 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 following his performances throughout the calendar year. 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 Shakhtar Donetsk 1–0 away from home, on Buffon's 100th club appearance in European Competitions. Juventus their group undefeated, and advancing to the knockout stages for first time since the 2008–09 edition.
Buffon kept a clean sheet in a 1–0 Coppa Italia win against Cagliari, 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 Iker Casillas and was named as goalkeeper of the century by the same organisation. 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 eighth time in his career. Juventus retained their Serie A title that season, and finished the league with the best defence, as Buffon conceded just 19 goals. The league victory allowed Buffon to lift the Serie A trophy as captain for the first time. 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 18 August 2013, Juventus began the 2013–14 season by defending their Supercoppa Italiana title, at the Stadio Olimpico, in Rome. Juventus defeated Lazio 4–0, with Buffon keeping a clean sheet in the competition for the first time; Buffon was praised for making several saves. On 24 November, Buffon made his 500th appearance in Serie A, keeping a clean sheet in a 2–0 away win against Livorno. On 6 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, going 640 minutes without being beaten in the Italian League. Buffon was finally beaten by Maxi Moralez in a 4-1 win over Atalanta, after going 745 minutes without conceding a goal in Serie A, and equalling Luca Marchegiani's sixth best unbeaten streak in Serie A history. Buffon was nominated for the 2013 FIFPro XI and the 2013 Ballon d'Or for his performances throughout the calendar year.
In 2013, Buffon was once again named the second best goalkeeper in the world by IFFHS, behind Manuel Neuer. On 16 March 2014, Buffon saved the 20th penalty of his career in a 1–0 away win over Genoa, equalising Dino Zoff's 476 appearances for Juventus as the club's fifth all-time appearance holder. 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 finished with the best defence of the league, yet again. Buffon managed 89 saves and 18 clean sheets in 33 appearances during the Serie A season, and conceded 19 goals. Juventus were eliminated in the group stage of the Champion's League, although they later managed to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League losing out to Benfica. Buffon was chosen as part of the 2013–14 Europa League Team of the Season for his performances throughout the tournament. On 1 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, Conte left Juventus to take charge of the Italian national side, and former Milan manager, Massimiliano Allegri, was called in as a replacement. Juventus opened the 2014–15 Serie A season with a 1–0 away win over Chievo Verona, with Buffon keeping a clean-sheet and producing a notable save on Maxi Lopez in the second half. On 27 September, Buffon saved a German Denis penalty in a 3–0 away win over Atalanta, helping Juventus to keep their 5th consecutive clean-sheet in Serie A; he was eventually beaten by a Francesco Totti penalty in a 3–2 home win over Roma on 5 October, after going unbeaten for 616 minutes that season. Including the previous season, Buffon managed to go 801 minutes in total without conceding a league goal; this record has only been bettered by Dino Zoff and Sebastiano Rossi. On 29 October, Buffon made his 500th appearance for Juventus in a 1–0 away loss to Genoa. On 1 November 2014, Buffon made his 400th League appearance with Juventus (37 of which were in Serie B, and 363 of which were in Serie A), keeping a clean-sheet in a 2–0 away win over Empoli. On 24 November, Buffon was nominated for the 2014 FIFPro World XI for a record 10th time. He is currently the only goalkeeper to have been nominated for the award every year since its inception in 2005. The same week, Buffon was also nominated for the UEFA Team of the Year.
On 15 December, 2014, Buffon was named Serie A goalkeeper of the year for the ninth time in his career, and was elected to the 2014 Serie A Team of the Year. On the 22nd December, Juventus were defeated by Napoli in the 2014 Supercoppa Italiana 8-7 on penalties, following a 2-2 draw after extra-time. Although Buffon made several saves during the match, and managed to stop three penalties in the shoot-out, he was unable to prevent his team from losing the title. Buffon placed fourth in the 2014 IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper Award, behind Neuer, Courtois, and Navas; this was the 15th consecutive year in which he had been named as one of the world's top five goalkeepers. On 15 February 2015, Buffon surpassed Gaetano Scirea as the Juventus player with the second most minutes played in Serie A, behind only Giampiero Boniperti. On 2 March 2015, Buffon equalled Scirea as the Juventus player with the second most appearances in Serie A, behind only Del Piero.
Youth career, early call-ups and Euro 2000 qualification
Buffon has represented Italy at all youth levels, from the under-15 side to the under-23 side, as well as the olympic side in 1996; he reached the final of the 1995 under-19 European Championship with Italy. He was most notably a member of Italy's 1996 UEFA under-21 championship winning squad. Buffon was also a member of the Italy squad that won the gold medal for football at the 1997 Mediterranean Games, in Bari, on home soil. Buffon currently holds the record for the most clean-sheets with the Italian national side.
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 1998 World Cup qualification play-off against Russia, in Moscow. Buffon made notable saves under snowy conditions in a 1–1 away draw, only being beaten by a Fabio Cannavaro own goal. 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 behind Pagliuca, with Toldo being called up as the third choice keeper, but Buffon did not play a single game in 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 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.
Trapattoni era: World Cup and European Championship debut
Toldo's impressive performances at Euro 2000 meant that he retained his place in the team for the beginning of Italy's 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign. 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, although 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 excellent 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 producing 40 saves, and was elected to the Team of the Tournament. 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 named in 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 acting Italy captain under Roberto Donadoni for Euro 2008 after incumbent Fabio Cannavaro was ruled out of the tournament due to injury, and as Italy's replacement captain Del Piero was frequently deployed as a substitute. In the second game of the group stage against Romania on 13 June, he saved an 81st minute penalty from Adrian Mutu to keep Italy's hopes alive following their opening defeat against the Netherlands, as the match ended 1–1. Buffon kept a clean sheet against France in the final group game, as Italy won 2–0 to advance to the quarter-finals. Italy were eliminated 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 the team of the tournament for his performances.
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 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 Federico Marchetti. Italy disappointed and failed to win a match, finishing last in their group with two points. Lippi was dismissed after the Italy's premature elimination from 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, in Dortmund. On 6 September 2011, after a 1–0 Italy win over Slovenia, Buffon surpassed Zoff and 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. 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 Cannavaro and Paolo Maldini. He was subsequently selected as Italy's starting goalkeeper and captain for Euro 2012, after leading his national side to qualify for the tournament undefeated, only conceding 2 goals.
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 qualified Italy for the 2013 Confederations Cup, as 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 elected to 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, equalling Maldini's number of caps for the national team; In the same match, Buffon saved a penalty by Michael Mifsud, helping Italy to a 2–0 away win.
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 featured in Italy's opening 2-1 win against Mexico, where he was beaten only by a Javier Hernandez penalty. In the next game on 19 June 2013, against Japan, 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. Italy faced Spain in the semi-final, in a rematch of the Euro 2012 final, but lost 7–6 in the resulting penalty shootout, after a 0–0 draw. 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 Leonardo Bonucci, was hit over bar. In the 3rd-place match, Italy defeated Uruguay by 3–2 in the penalty shootout after a 2–2 deadlock following extra time. Buffon saved three penalties; those taken by Diego Forlán, Juventus team mate Martín Cáceres and Walter Gargano.
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 for making several saves, earning a man of the match award. The win allowed Italy to move seven points clear in their qualifying group. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying fixture against the Czech Republic, at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, on 10 September 2013, Buffon equalled Cannavaro as the Italian national football team record appearance holder, with 136 caps. 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 done so. On 11 October 2013, in a 2–2 World Cup Qualifier draw against Denmark, Buffon surpassed Cannavaro, becoming the sole record appearance holder for Italy, with 137. On 2 January 2014, Buffon was awarded the 2013 "Pallone Azzurro" award, which is given to the Italian national side's best player of the year.
2014 World Cup under Prandelli
On 12 May, Buffon was named in 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 squad. Italy were placed in Group D, in the so-called "group of death", or "group of champions", with Costa Rica, England and Uruguay. Buffon became the third 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, 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. Andrea Pirlo captained the team in his absence, as Italy won the match 2-1.
In Italy's next group match, which ended in a 1–0 loss to Costa Rica, he captained his national side for the first time at a World Cup; this was the fourth World Cup in which he appeared. In Italy's final group game against Uruguay, Buffon made notable saves on Luis Suarez and Nicolas Lodeiro, as Italy were reduced to ten men following Marchisio's controversial red card; he was eventually beaten in the 81st minute by Diego Godín's header. Buffon was voted man of the match for his performance. Italy finished in third place in their group, and were eliminated in the group stage for a second consecutive World Cup.
The Conte era: Euro 2016 qualification
Buffon made his first appearance for Italy under Conte on 9 September 2014, captaining his team in their opening European Championship qualifying match against Norway, in Oslo. Buffon kept a clean sheet as Italy won the match 2–0.
Style of play and reputation
Buffon is widely considered by experts to be one of the greatest goalkeepers in history, having won numerous, prestigious individual and team awards. 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 renowned for his consistent performances throughout his career, and has received praise from managers, players 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, charisma, power, and class". Buffon has been praised for his athleticism, 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 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 has also been described as "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.
Buffon has been sponsored by German sportswear company Puma during his career, wearing Puma gloves and Puma King football boots, and has appeared in Puma commercials. Buffon features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series, and was named alongside Manuel Neuer, Iker Casillas and Petr Čech in the Ultimate Team Best Goalkeepers in FIFA 14.
Buffon has featured in Pepsi commercials, including an advertisement for the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan where he lined up alongside players including David Beckham, Raúl and Roberto Carlos in taking on a team of Sumo players.
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 married Czech model Alena Šeredová in 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 had separated 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. Prior to his relationship and marriage to Šeredová, Buffon had previously been engaged to the sprinter of the Italy national athletics team, Vincenza Calì.
In 2013, Buffon claimed to have suffered with bouts of depression during the 2003–04 season, following Juventus's penalty shoot-out defeat in the 2003 Champion's League final, and due to Juventus's negative performance that season. Buffon regularly visited a psychologist and overcame his depression prior to Euro 2004.
Outside of professional football
On 14 November 2008, Buffon released the Italian edition of his autobiography "Numero 1", which was written in collaboration with writer Roberto Perrone. In the introduction, he is described as "the greatest goalkeeper in the world – one of the four or five keepers that will always be remembered in the history world football." In 2009, Buffon, an avid poker player and gambler, was hired by PokerStars (an online poker room), to endorse their products. In December 2009, Buffon was included in The Sun's "Team of the Decade".
On 16 July 2010, he became a share-holding partner of Carrarese (his hometown and favourite childhood club, along with Genoa); he owns 50% of the shares along with Cristiano Lucarelli and Maurizio Mian. On 10 June 2011, he acquired 20% of the club's shares, confirming and increasing his support for his hometown club. On 6 July 2012, Buffon become the sole shareholder of Carrarese Calcio through his family's company: "Buffon & co".
On 30 May 2011, he joined the Board of Directors of the Zucchi Group S.p.A., with a share of 19.4%.
On 7 May 2012, Buffon was elected vicepresident of the Italian Footballers' Association (AIC); this was the first time an active footballer had held this position. That same year, Buffon joined the "Respect Diversity" Programme, through UEFA, which aimed to fight against racism, discrimination and intolerance of any kind. Buffon is also known for his charity work. In addition to his other charitable endeavours, after every match, he auctions off his personalised captain's armband for charity. The same year, he was voted the 20th best footballer in the world by The Guardian, finishing as the second highest ranked goalkeeper, behind Iker Casillas.
On 1 September 2014, Buffon, along with many current and former footballing stars, took part in the "Match for Peace", which was played at the Stadio Olimpico, in Rome, with the proceeds being donated to charity.
Buffon was awarded the Nereo Rocco Prize on 2 September 2014, which is given to a footballer in recognition of their career. In December 2014, Buffon was named the fifth best goalkeeper in the world by the Daily Mail, at the age of 36, behind Manuel Neuer, David De Gea, Thibaut Courtois, and Joe Hart; he was the oldest goalkeeper to be present in the top 10.
- As of 4 March 2015
1Includes Coppa Italia.
3Includes Supercoppa Italiana.
- As of 14 October 2014
|Italy national team|
- Seventh most appearances in the Serie A (545 appearances as of 3 March 2015)
- Fourth most appearances for Juventus in all competitions (520 appearances as of 3 March 2015)
- Third most appearances for Juventus in Serie A alongside Gaetano Scirea (377 appearances as of 3 March 2015)
- Third most appearances for Juventus in Italian League matches (Includes Serie A and Serie B) (414 appearances as of 3 March 2015)
- Second most appearances for Juventus in European Club Competitions (89 appearances as of 26 December 2014)
- Third most appearances for Juventus in International Club Competitions (89 appearances as of 28 February 2014)
- Joint-most appearances for Juventus in Serie B (37 appearances as of 16 February 2015)
- Most appearances for Italy (145 appearances as of 30 October 2014)
- Least number of goals conceded in a single FIFA World Cup edition by a starting World Cup winning goalkeeper, alongside Iker Casillas and Fabien Barthez (2 goals in 7 appearances at the 2006 World Cup)
- Most clean-sheets in a single World Cup edition, alongside Iker Casillas, Pascal Zuberbühler, Oliver Kahn, Fabien Barthez, and Walter Zenga (5 clean sheets at the 2006 World Cup)
- Sixth longest consecutive run without conceding a goal in Serie A, alongside Luca Marchegiani (745 minutes from 2013–2014)
- One of the only 3 players to take part in 5 World Cups, alongside Antonio Carbajal and Lothar Matthäus (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014)
- Most number of clean sheets for Italy (60 clean sheets, as of 30 October 2014)
- Most number of clean sheets in the Italian Serie A (243 clean sheets, as of 2 February 2015)
- Only goalkeeper to ever be awarded the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year Award (2003).
- Most Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year awards (9)
- Most expensive goalkeeper of all time
- Longest unbeaten streak in International European Qualifying matches (568 minutes)
- These titles were revoked through the courts following the Calciopoli Scandal.
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Alessandro Del Piero