Born in Jan 28, 1978, Gianluggi Buffon is Italy’s number 1 goalkeeper and considered by many to be among the current top five soccer goalkeepers in the world. Gianluggi, better known as ‘Gigi’, has the distinction of being the most expensive goalkeeper in soccer history. He was transferred from Parma to Juventus for a record fee of £33 million, which is the highest amount paid ever for a goalkeeper. This further adds to the notion that he is among the best goalkeepers in the world today.
In 2003, Buffon was recognized as the ‘Best Goalkeeper’ in Europe by UEFA at the European Football Awards. He helped Juventus to become the Italian League champions three out of four seasons since he joined them.
Buffon’s debut was in 1995. He joined Parma at the age of 17 and worked his way up the ladder. Although Buffon is an accomplished goalkeeper, he was actually a midfielder in his earlier teens. His switch of position from midfield to goalkeeper has proven to be the right one. His growth into a respected goalkeeper has been phenomenal. He proved his mettle along the way and was a reserved goalkeeper in the 1998 world cup. Buffon became the undisputed number 1 goalkeeper for Italy in the 2002 world cup. He will once again feature in the 2006 world cup as Italy’s first choice goalkeeper. Though he has been chosen to represent Italy in the world cup, many are concerned whether he will be in top form after suffering a major shoulder injury in 2005/06. Buffon is out to prove that he is in his best form and says that he will be ready for the 2006 world cup. He was so confident that he predicted that Italy has a 95% chance of winning the world cup.
Buffon was mired in controversy recently for his alleged involvement in betting. He was questioned by magistrates in Turin and has denied any wrongdoing on his part. Buffon said that he has not been involved in any betting after the Italian Football Federation implemented new rules that disallowed active players from betting in 2005. There is currently a major crackdown by the authorities on betting, as many people directly involved in the game are allegedly involved in betting.
With all these things weighing on his shoulders, Buffon will need lots of mental strength and mental training to stay focused on his game.