When one of the greatest soccer players in the history of the sports gives you a nod of approval, you pay attention and so does the world. Gianluigi Buffon, the Italian goalkeeper for both the Italian National Team and the Serie A cub, Juventus, knows how that feels. When Pele stated that he was one of greatest living footballers in the world, the honor brought with it not only gratitude but also intense scrutiny from the international soccer community.
Gianluigi’s fans and friends usually refer to him, lovingly, as «Gigi». On the field for Juventus, Gigi is a dominant player and formidable goalkeeper and his outstanding play has led to his attaining the title of Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record setting nine times in his career thus far.
He played his first game for Team Italy in 1997 when he was only 19 years old. Though he was called up for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, he did not play as he was still on the second squad. He did, however, enjoy the privilege of representing his country in the 1996 Summer Olympics and then 2002 World Cup and the 2004-EURO.
In the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals, he played an amazing series and conceded only two goals and keeping five clean sheets all while hanging on to a 450+ minute scoreless streak that had fans all over the world buzzing about Buffon. They buzzed a little more when he was award the Yashin Award for his amazing achievements during the Cup tournament.
In 2008 he was the Captain for Team Italy in the EURO where, in spite of his superior play, the Italians were eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Young, aggressive, talented and with a challenge to live up to Pele’s words, it is almost certain we will see many more amazing saves by Buffon in seasons to come.
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