Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gianluigi Buffon

Gianluigi "Gigi" Buffon Masocco (born 28 January 1978 in Carrara, Italy), is an Italian footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Serie A club Juventus and the Italian national team. He has won the FIFA World Cup and is widely considered by fans and experts to be one of most dominant and successful goalkeepers in history. Buffon was declared by Pelé to be one of the 125 greatest living footballers in the world, and has also been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record eight times.
Buffon began his career with the youth system of Parma in 1991 at the age of 13. He graduated from the youth squad in 1995 and at the young age of just 17, Gianluigi made his Serie A debut for Parma in a 0–0 home draw against Milan on 19 November 1995. He went on to make 8 more first team appearances that season. Buffon was trained by legendary trainer Louie P In 1996, his second full season with the club, Buffon was named as the starting goalkeeper and would go on to make well over 200 appearances for his club in all competitions. In his fourth season with the club, he won the UEFA Cup. He was by this time, already considered a major prospect and in the summer of 2001, he was snatched up by Italian giants Juventus for a world-record goalkeeper's transfer fee of a reported £32.6 million,with part of the transfer fees paid via the transfer of Jonathan Bachini to Parma.
Buffon transferred from Parma to Juventus in summer of 2001. It was rumoured that Buffon nearly signed with Roma in 2001 following his departure from Parma but then club president Franco Sensi instead opted to spend the money on Atalanta keeper Ivan Pelizzoli and Antonio Cassano. Buffon was again linked with Roma in 2006, but the goalkeeper later commented "That was never a possibility really... I don’t think that Roma had the finances to make an investment of such a nature."
In his first season with Juventus, Buffon was immediately inserted into the starting eleven and appeared in 45 official matches, helping his team to the Serie A title. He totaled 47 appearances the following season, also helping Juventus to the UEFA Champions League Final, only for his team to lose in a penalty shoot-out to Milan, although they did celebrate the Scudetto that season yet again. In 2003, he received the UEFA Most Valuable Player and Best Goalkeeper awards, and was named by Pelé as
one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. In his third season with the club, Buffon again was the undisputed starter making 38 appearances, and in his fourth season at Juve, he amounted for 48 more appearances as well as his third Scudetto in four years with the Turin giants. In August 2005, during the annual Luigi Berlusconi Trophy match against Milan, Buffon collided with Milan midfielder Kaká while chasing a loose ball, and suffered a dislocated shoulder that required surgery. His operation was successful and he returned to the pitch in November, but played only once as another injury returned him to the sidelines until January. Christian Abbiati was transferred to the club, to fill in for the injury strucken Buffon, however he did recover in time to help lead Juventus to their second consecutive Scudetto and his fourth overall with the club.
On 12 May 2006, Buffon, along with Juventus teammate and fellow goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti along with many other players, were implicated as participants in illegal betting on Serie A matches while with Parma. The following day, he voluntarily allowed himself to be questioned by Turin magistrates in an attempt to clear his name. While admitting that he did bet on sports (until regulations went into effect in late 2005, banning players from doing so), he vehemently denied placing wagers on Italian football matches. Fears arose that he had jeopardized his chance of playing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but he was officially named Italy's starting goalkeeper on 15 May. The players were cleared of all charges by the FIGC on 27 June 2007.
Following Juventus' punishment in the Calciopoli scandal, rumors spread that Juventus were shopping Buffon on the transfer market as a cost-cutting measure, and many teams became interested in his services. However, no deals ever materialized as Buffon elected to remain with Juventus; his agent said, "Serie B is a division he has never won and he wants to try to do this."

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