Due to his longevity and consistency, Gigi Buffon is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. He is still going strong at 43 years of age. (He will be 44 years old on January 28, 2022) His illustrious 26-year career has seen him lift a World Cup and amass an impressive collection of numerous league titles. Had it not been for a Cameroonian goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon might have never reached such dizzying heights.
Gigi Buffon Was Destined For Success
From an early age, it was evident that the boy from Carrara, Tuscany, would achieve international greatness. Born into a family obsessed with sports, young Gigi Buffon soon found himself running around on the football pitch. His physique and technical ability made Gianluigi Buffon an ideal midfield enforcer, and word quickly spread that Gigi’s club, Perticata, had an exceptional talent on their hands. Parma was his boyhood club when growing up.
Change Of Heart
Soon, bigger clubs came calling, and even the mighty Inter Milan got wind of Buffon’s development, but Gigi wasn’t interested in being a midfielder anymore. Instead, he wanted to be a goalkeeper.
After watching the exploits of Thomas N’Kono in 1987, when his Espanyol side dumped Milan out of the UEFA Cup, Buffon became enamored with the goalkeeping position. Then, during the memorable Italia ’90 World Cup, Gigi’s newfound love turned into an obsession.
Thomas N’Kono impressed between the goal posts as the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon reached the quarterfinals, only to be controversially knocked out by England. Gigi Buffon was glued to the TV every time N’Kono and his teammates took to the field, and the Italian wanted to emulate his idol.
It wasn’t an easy transition for Gianluigi Buffon, especially since all his admirers wanted Gigi the midfielder and not Gigi, the goalkeeper. However, he soon found a new home at Bonascola. Thanks to his natural talent and work ethic, Gigi Buffon quickly adapted to his new position and, after less than a year, joined the system of Serie A side Parma team at just 13. to start his youth career.
After four years of learning and developing at the Maria Luigia boarding school at Parma, Gigi was thrust into the spotlight. On November 19, 1995, at the tender age of 17, Gianluigi Buffon made his professional debut against Fabio Capello’s imperious AC Milan. In no time at all, he gained a reputation as one of Italy’s most promising young goalkeepers, He was incredible. Not fazed one bit, Gigi Buffon made saves on Ballon d’Or winners Roberto Baggio and George Weah, keeping a clean sheet and earning the nickname “Superman” in the process.
Gianluigi Buffon’s second full Serie A season, 1996–97, saw him take the starting Parma goalkeeper’s position ahead of Luca Bucci and Alessandro Nista. His first European trophy was the UEFA Cup, which he won against Marseille 3–0 in 1998-89. On 3rd July 2001, Juventus FC paid Parma a world-record fee of €51,645,690 for the goalkeeper.
Since his debut, Gigi’s career has gone from strength to strength, and in 2001 he left boyhood club Parma to sign for Juventus. The rest, as they say, is history.
Gigi Buffon Juventus Success
Gigi Buffon made his Juventus debut against Venezia on 26 August 2001, keeping a clean sheet in a 4–0 win.
Juventus FC won the league and the Supercoppa Italiana in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, bringing instant success to their goalkeeper. However, after a 0–0 draw, he lost a penalty shootout to Milan in the 2003 Champions League Final.
It was alleged that Gianluigi Buffon participated in illegal betting on Serie A matches. Despite this, Gigi Buffon cooperated with the Turin magistrates by interrogating himself. Although he admitted to placing bets on sporting events (until late 2005, when regulations prohibited it), he continued to deny placing wagers on Italian league football matches.
In the wake of the Calciopoli scandal, Juventus’ two most recent Serie A titles were stripped, and the team was relegated to Serie B and penalized with a points deduction. Gigi Buffon was rumored to be on the transfer market. Because of this decision to remain with Juventus, despite the team’s relegation, he became extremely popular among the Juventus fans.
By 2008-09, Juventus was back in Serie A and finished third. But, unfortunately, injury-plagued him the next few years, causing him to miss large chunks of the season. Juventus was again a dominant force in Serie A under manager Antonio Conte, former midfielder of Juventus FC. Gianluigi Buffon regained his form during the 2011-12 season. He made many notable saves during the season. The Italian player won seven consecutive Serie A titles, five Coppa Italia titles, and four Supercoppa Italiana titles. At Juventus, he finished as runner-up twice more in the Champions League.
Gigi Buffon spent one season at Paris Saint-Germain before returning to Juventus for another three seasons. Once again, in 2020, Buffon played an integral part in the Serie A Championship.
Return To Boyhood Club Parma
The newly-relegated Parma (His original professional club) announced Gigi Buffon’s return in June 2021. Gianluigi Buffon made his Parma debut on 20 August 2021, conceding a late equalizer against Frosinone in a 2–2 away draw. Gianluigi Buffon’s total career includes a total of 948 competitive games and 729 league matches by the end of 2021.
Italy National Team
The Italian goalkeeper has represented Italy in every age group from under-16 to under-23 and on the Olympic team. In addition, he led Italy to the 1996 Under-21 European Championship.
In October 1997, he was 19 years and nine months old when he earned his first cap for Italy in international football. Gianluigi Buffon holds the record for most caps for the Italy national team, with 176. In addition to the most appearances for Italy as captain, Gianluigi Buffon also holds the record for most appearances as captain after inheriting the armband in 2010 until he retired in 2018.
Buffon was selected for five World Cups in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. Under his former Juventus coach Marcello Lippi, he was the first choice goalkeeper as Italy won the 2006 World Cup. With a clean sheet in five of his seven matches during the 2006 World Cup finals, Gigi Buffon set a World Cup record. He was chosen in the World Cup Team of the Tournament and received the Yashin Award as the best goalkeeper.