28 January 2016

Gianluigi Buffon – goalkeeper

Record breaking footballer still at peak of his career

Gianluigi Buffon is goalkeeper for Italy and Juventus
Gianluigi Buffon
Picture courtesy of Puma
Italy and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was born on this day in 1978 in Carrara in Tuscany.

Widely considered by football experts to be the best goalkeeper in the world, he is known for his outstanding ability to stop shots.

He holds the record for the most clean sheets, both in Serie A and the national side, and he has won numerous awards.

Now aged 38, Buffon has announced that he will probably retire after the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

He has played a record 154 times for Italy and is expected to be first choice at this summer’s European Championships in France.

Buffon, whose nickname is Gigi, was born into a family of athletes. His mother, Maria, was a discus thrower and his father, Adriano, was a weight lifter. His two sisters both played volleyball for the Italian national team and his uncle was a prominent basketball player.

Watch 10 of Gianluigi Buffon's greatest saves

His grandfather’s cousin, Lorenzo Buffon, was also a top goalkeeper, playing for AC Milan and Italy, representing his country at the 1962 FIFA World Cup.

Gianluigi Buffon began his career with the Parma youth team at the age of 13 as an outfield player. When both of the team’s goalkeepers were injured he was asked to deputise in goal and within two weeks he had been promoted to first team 'keeper.

Buffon saves a penalty from England's Ashley Cole during Italy's quarter-final shoot-out win at Euro 2012
Buffon saves a penalty from England's Ashley Cole
during Italy's quarter-final shoot-out win at Euro 2012
When he transferred from Parma to Juventus in 2001 for 100 billion lire, more than 51 million euros (the equivalent of £32.4 million) he became the most expensive goalkeeper in history and the record still stands.

Buffon auctions off his captain’s arm band after every match to benefit the charities he supports.

UPDATE: Since this article was written, Buffon spent the 2018-19 season playing for Paris St Germain in France, returned to Juventus for two more seasons and rejoined his boyhood club, Parma, last summer, continuing to play in Serie B, the second tier of the Italian championship. He retired from international football after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals.

Travel tip:

The city of Carrara in Tuscany, where Buffon was born, is famous for the quarries that produce white and blue-grey Carrara marble. Among the sights worth seeing in the centre of the town are a decorative 12th century Duomo and a 16th century Ducal Palace, the Palazzo Cybo Malaspina, which is now the headquarters of a Fine Arts Academy.

Palazzo Cybo Malaspina in Carrara
Photo: Davide Papalini (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Travel tip:

Juventus Football Club, colloquially known as Juve, play at Juventus Stadium in Corso Galileo Ferraris in Turin. You can book a ticket to visit the club’s museum and tour the stadium, which will even give you the chance to see inside the club's dressing rooms. For more details go to www.juventus.com 

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