Gianluigi Buffon was born into an athletic family on January 28, 1978, in Carrara, Italy. After beginning his soccer career with Parma F.C., he proved worth a record transfer fee by leading Juventus F.C. to four straight league titles. Nearly flawless during Italy's run to the 2006 FIFA World Cup championship, Buffon has since cemented his standing as one of the world's top goalkeepers.
Gianluigi Buffon was born on January 28, 1978, in Carrara, Italy. The son two athletes—his father was a weightlifter and his mother was a discus thrower—Buffon displayed his superior athletic genes in soccer games. Originally a midfielder, he switched to goalkeeper at age 11, and joined the youth system of Parma F.C. at 13.
Early Club and International Career
Buffon made his senior debut for Parma in November 1995 and was part of the junior team that won the UEFA U-21 Championship the following spring. He established himself as his club's regular starter in 1997, with his superb work guarding the net helping Parma claim the UEFA Cup, Italian Cup and Italian Supercup in 1999.
The 6'4" goalkeeper made a strong impression in his debut for the senior national team during a FIFA World Cup qualifying match in October 1997, but didn't play in the following year's Cup. He seized the starting job for Italy before the 2000 European Championship, but suffered a broken hand and missed that tournament as well.
Juventus and World Acclaim
Buffon transferred to Juventus F.C. in the summer of 2001 for approximately $45 million, a record fee for a goalkeeper. He proved worth the hefty sum by leading Juventus to four consecutive league titles and a pair of Italian Supercups, earning UEFA Club Footballer of the Year honors in 2003. He also broke through on the international level with his strong play at 2002 FIFA World Cup.
In May 2006, Buffon was among several players charged with betting on matches in the infamous Calciopoli scandal. He was cleared of wrongdoing, and elected to stay with the club even after Juventus was stripped of its two most recent league titles and relegated to the second division as punishment. Despite the negativity surrounding Italian soccer, Buffon led an inspired squad to the 2006 FIFA World Cup championship, conceding just two goals to earn the Yashin Award as the tournament's top goalkeeper. At the end of the year, he finished second in the Ballon d'Or Award voting.
Buffon missed nearly all of the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a back injury, but he was selected to the Team of the Tournament at both the 2008 and 2012 European Championships. Meanwhile, Juventus returned to the top of the pack of the Italian first division with back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.
Buffon showed he was as impenetrable as ever with no goals allowed in the 2013 Italian Supercup final victory. Closing in on former teammate Fabio Cannavaro's mark of 136 international caps, the great goalkeeper seemed poised to break many more records before his career was finished.
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