Legendary goalkeeper Gigi Buffon turns 40 on January 28 and Livio Caferoglu has compiled a list of 40 memorable moments from the Juventus and Italy hero.
1. The making of Buffon
Aged 17 years and 295 days, Gianluigi Buffon made his debut in professional football for Parma on November 19, 1995, keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with eventual champions Milan and making several saves to deny Ballon d’Or winners Roberto Baggio and George Weah.
2. First career silverware
At the end of his first season as a pro, Buffon was called up for the European Under-21 Championship, alongside the likes of Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Cannavaro. Italy won the tournament after they beat Spain 1-0 in the Final, although the goalkeeper did not make any appearances in France.
3. Becoming Parma’s No 1
Buffon ousted the experienced Luca Bucci and Alessandro Nista to become Parma’s first-choice goalkeeper the following season and duly delivered, conceding just 17 goals in 27 Serie A appearances. The campaign also saw him debut in European competition, against Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes.
Buffon was given the nickname ‘Superman’ on March 8, 1998, when he saved a penalty from Ronaldo to not only secure Parma a 1-0 victory over Inter but also damage the Nerazzurri’s Scudetto hopes, with Juventus going on to win the title that year.
5. Buffon makes Italy bow
Buffon’s performances did not go unnoticed on Italy’s part as he became their youngest goalkeeper in the post-World War II era on October 29, 1997, appearing as a substitute during a 1-1 draw with Russia in snowy conditions. That record stood for 19 years, until it was broken by Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma.
6. Winning the UEFA Cup
In only his fourth full season Buffon won his first European trophy, helping Parma to a UEFA Cup success in 1999. The 21-year-old kept a clean sheet in the Final as the Gialloblu defeated French side Olympique Marseille 3-0.
7. First Serie A best GK award
Buffon’s displays during the 1998-99 campaign earned him his first-ever Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year award, plus the Bravo award for the best player under 23 years of age in Europe and a maiden Ballon d’Or nomination.
8. The world’s most expensive goalkeeper
Despite receiving offers from Roma and Barcelona, Buffon ultimately left Parma for Juventus in the summer of 2001 for €52m, a fee that remains the highest paid for a shot-stopper to this day.
9. First Scudetto with Juve
Buffon’s first season with Juventus was a successful one as he won the first Serie A title of his career, forming part of the League’s best defence, which conceded only 22 goals.
10. First UEFA and IFFHS awards
The 2002-03 campaign may have ended with Juve losing to Milan on penalties in the Champions League Final, but that did not stop Buffon from winning the UEFA's Best Goalkeeper award and being named the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper for the first time in his career.