Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper. He captains both Serie A club Juventus and the Italy national team. Buffon is one of only eighteen players to have made at least 1,000 professional career appearances; with 168 international caps, Buffon is also the most capped player in the history of the Italian national team, the joint fifth-most capped male international footballer of all time, alongside Iván Hurtado, and the most capped European international player ever. He is widely regarded by players, pundits and managers to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and, by some, to be the greatest ever. Buffon is known for his “outstanding shot-stopping” and for being “a vocal organizer of the defence and a key dressing room personality”. He is currently the most expensive goalkeeper in history, following his €53 million transfer from Parma to Juventus in 2001. Buffon holds the record for the most clean sheets in Serie A, and with the Italy national team; he also holds the record for the longest streak without conceding a goal in Serie A history: over 12 league matches, he went unbeaten for 974 consecutive minutes during the 2015–16 season, as well as having achieved the most consecutive clean sheets (10) in Serie A in that same season. At club level, Buffon’s professional career began with Parma in 1995, where he made his Serie A debut, and was soon promoted to the role of starting goalkeeper, earning a reputation as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Italy; during his time with the club, he won the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Cup and the Supercoppa Italiana, all in 1999. After joining Juventus in 2001, Buffon immediately won Serie A titles in both of his first two seasons at the club, and established himself as one of the best players in the world in his position. After winning two more consecutive league titles in 2005 and 2006, the club were later stripped of these titles and relegated due to their involvement in the 2006 Italian football scandal. Despite rumours of his departure, Buffon remained with Juventus, contributing to the club’s Serie B title and promotion back to Serie A in 2007. Following several trophyless seasons, Buffon later played a key role in Juventus’ resurgence, which saw the club win an Italian record of six consecutive league titles between 2011 and 2017; he also inherited the captain’s armband following the departure of Alessandro Del Piero in 2012. In total, he has won eight Serie A titles, three Coppa Italia titles, and five Supercoppa Italiana titles with Juventus. With the Italy national team, Buffon has been called up for an international record of five FIFA World Cup tournaments (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) since making his debut in 1997, featuring in four of them as Italy’s starting goalkeeper (he was an unused substitute in 1998). He was the starting goalkeeper of the Italian team that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which saw him keep a record five clean sheets, and concede only two goals, neither of which were in open play. He has also represented Italy at four European Championships, at the 1996 Olympics, and at two FIFA Confederations Cups, winning a bronze medal in the 2013 edition of the tournament. Buffon has also won numerous, prestigious individual and team awards. He 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 eleven times. Buffon was the winner of the 2006 Yashin Award following Italy’s World Cup victory, in which he was also elected to be part of the Team of the Tournament; an honour which he also received after reaching the quarter-finals of the 2008 European Championships, and 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 after reaching the Champions League final; he also won the award for best Goalkeeper that year, and was voted into the UEFA Team of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2016. In 2006, Buffon was runner-up for the Ballon d’Or and was elected to be part of the FIFPro World XI, an honour which he also achieved in 2007. After reaching the 2015 Champions League final, he was named to the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season, and placed fourth in the 2015 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. He has been named the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper four times (second only to Iker Casillas, with five awards) and was also named the best goalkeeper of the 21st century, of the past 25 years, and of the decade, by the same organisation. In 2016, he became the first goalkeeper ever to win the Golden Foot Award, which pertains to both personality and playing ability.

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Despite offers from Bologna and Milan, Buffon began his career with the Parma youth system in 1991, at the age of 13. During his time in the 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 inspired this change of position due to his notable goalkeeping performances for Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup in Italy; as a result, when both of the Parma youth team’s keepers suddenly suffered injuries, Buffon was called upon due to his interest, height and physical attributes. He quickly adapted to this role, and within two weeks he had been promoted to first keeper of the Parma youth team. Ermes Fulgoni, the academy’s goalkeeping coach, would soon become a mentor to the young goalkeeper.

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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. Buffon conceded 17 goals in 27 appearances, and his consistent performances began to gain attention in Italy. Buffon also made his European debut in a 2–0 defeat to Portuguese club Vitória de Guimarães on 24 September 1996.Buffon acquired his nickname “Superman” during the course of the season, when he stopped a penalty by Inter striker and Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo. 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 

PARMA CALCIO 


1997-1998


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PARMA CALCIO 


1997-1998


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Did you Know?

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. 

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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. With the Italy under-16 side, he reached the final of the 1993 UEFA European Under-16 Championship, saving three penalties in the semifinal shootout. With the Italy U-17 side he took part at the 1993 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Japan. In 1995, he reached the final of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship with the Italian U-19 side. He was most notably a member of Italy’s 1996 UEFA European Under-21 Championship-winning squad. Buffon was 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. 


ITALY NATIONAL TEAM


1997-1998


Fifa World Cup “France 98” Qualifying Game


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ITALY NATIONAL TEAM


Fifa World Cup “FRANCE 98”


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“I’ve never seen a debut like his for the personality and quality he showed” Dino Zoff

Did you Know?

Buffon was awarded his first cap for Italy’s senior team under Cesare Maldini on 29 October 1997, at the age of 19 years and 9 months, as an injury replacement for Gianluca Pagliuca during the first leg of the 1998 World Cup qualification play-off against Russia, in Moscow; with this cap, Buffon became the youngest goalkeeper to feature for Italy post-World War II. This record was beaten by Gianluigi Donnarumma on 1 September 2016. 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 Angelo Peruzzi’s injury, he was promoted to second-choice goalkeeper behind Pagliuca, with Francesco Toldo being called up as third-choice, 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.

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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 goalkeeper. Italy reached the final of the tournament, losing once again to France.

ITALY NATIONAL TEAM


1998-1999


Euro 2000 Qualifying Game


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Juventus F.C.Italy National Team

PARMA CALCIO 


1999-2000


Tim Cup


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Did you Know?

In the season 1998-1999 Buffon’s performances earned him his first Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Award, as well as the Bravo Award, the trophy given to the best player under 23 years of age in Europe. He also placed fifth in the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper rankings, and received his first ever Ballon d’Or nomination. In the following 1999-2000 season, he won his first Supercoppa Italiana title against Serie A champions Milan, and Parma finished fourth in Serie A once again, tied with Inter for the final remaining Champions League spot. Parma, however, lost 3–1 to Inter in the European playoff match. The club was knocked out in the round of 16 of both the UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia.

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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.

ITALY NATIONAL TEAM


2000-2001


Fifa World Cup “KOREA & JAPAN 2002” Qualifying


Match Worn Shirt



JUVENTUS F.C.


2001-2002


Brescia vs Juventus


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Did you Know?

2001-2002 was the Buffon first season with Juventus F.C. Buffon was acquired by Parma for a world-record goalkeeper’s transfer fee of 100 billion lire (€53 million). Buffon transferred from Parma to Juventus along with former Parma teammate 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, 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. This transfer fee made Buffon Juventus’s most expensive purchase ever.

“There have been some very good goalkeepers in my era, but Buffon is there for consistency. Most of the goalkeepers have had times when their form has not been so good, but Buffon has been at such a high level for so long” Ronaldinho

ITALY NATIONAL TEAM


Fifa World Cup “KOREA & JAPAN 2002”


Match Worn Shirt


Things to Know:

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.