Gianluigi Buffon career´s is close to experience one of its last steps with his return to Parma. The 43 years old goalkeeper comes back to the team that made him grow and it would now close the trajectory from one of the best keepers in history. Let´s review his professional career and his best moments in order to pay tribute to the mythical Italian keeper. Gianluigi Buffon, eternal.
First years of Buffon at Parma Calcio:
Buffon started playing as a forward when he was a kid, but the keepers´ injuries at the academy made him to try as a goalie. Just a few weeks later, he became a starter on that position. He went up to Parma Calcio first team in 1995 and on November 19th made his debut against AC Milan only being 17 years old. Next season he played in the Europa League for the first time and in the champions league in the 97-98 campaign. Buffon won during this phase the Italian Cup, the Italian Super Cup and the 1999 Europa League.
First era of Buffon at Juventus:
Buffon joins the vecchia signora in 2001 for 54 million euros, becoming the most expensive keeper in history by that moment. He won the Serie A during his first season and the Italian Super Cup, the same titles he conquered a year later, when he also played his first Champions League final that he lost to Milan. In 2006 he experienced the Calciopoli, the plot that made Juventus to go down to the Serie B due to games bribery. Buffon was one of the few players to stay, along with other legends like Nedved, del Piero o Trezeguet.
Injuries have been along Buffon throughout his entire career, but he has kept a top level despite this fact. The love story between him and Juventus has lasted more than 20 years, just with a gap year that he spent at PSG. During this phase, he has played three Champions League finals and has lost all of them. The biggest European tournament is the only trophy that he has not lifted.
These are the titles has won with Juventus until 2018: nine Scudettos, five Italian Super Cups, four Italian Cups and the Serie B title.
Adventure at PSG:
The break between Buffon and Juventus came in 2018, as he signed for PSG for a year and in exchange for one million euros. He played 25 games and he won the Ligue 1 and the French Super Cup. His adventure at Paris lasted for a year and he returned to Juventus in 2019.
Second era at Juventus:
Buffon returned to Juventus and signed for a year plus the possibility for an extra one after a quick adventure at PSG. At this new era at the vecchia signora he won a Serie A title, the Italian Super Cup and his last trophy was this year´s Italian Cup.
Italian National Team:
We can´t skip Buffon´s trajectory with the Italian National Team if we talk about his career. An “azzurra” legend for 20 years, Buffon has been part of a generation that has made history with Italy. He won the U-21 EURO in 1996 before making his debut with the absolute team and took part in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
He made his debut in 1997 in a game to qualify for the 1998 World Cup, for which he was called up but he did not play a single minute. An injury prevented him from playing in the 2000 EURO. He participated in the 2002 Korea World Cup where they fell in the round of 16 against the home team. They did not make it through the group stage in the 2002 EURO after finishing 3rd.
The glory came in the 2006 World Cup. They made it to the final against Zidane´s France after beating Australia, Ukraine and Germany. That game was decided in the penalty shootout, where the “azzurra” won 5-3. This way, Italy became World Champions for fourth time in history and Buffon was the best keeper in the tournament.
He was the captain in the 2008 EURO and in the he suffered an injury in the 2010 World Cup that held him back from playing the rest of that tournament. He made it to the 2012 EURO Final, but Italy were swept by Spain. At the Brazil 2014 World Cup, he entered the list of players who have been in five World Cup editions. France 2016 was his last international tournament, as Italy did not manage to qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup. That was a same, as he would have become the only player in history to be in six World Cups.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.