Gigi hails from a highly sporting family. His father Adriano was a weightlifter; his mother Maria Stella was a discus thrower; his uncle Angelo was a basketball player; his two sisters Veronica and Guendalina represented Italy at volleyball; and Lorenzo Buffon, the former AC Milan and Azzurri No1, is the cousin of his grandfather. Manu’s brother Marcel is a referee in the German lower leagues.
Age at which first played in goal
Buffon joined Parma’s youth ranks shortly after his 13th birthday in 1991, as a usual midfielder/sometime forward renowned for boasting a powerful shot and a very long throw-in. His idols were Germany's Lothar Matthaus and Czechoslovakia's Tomas Skuhravy, who led the line for the Genoa side Buffon supported. Shortly into his time on I Gialloblu’s books, however, they were short of a goalkeeper for a practise match. Buffon, who had been wowed by Thomas N'Kono’s performances between the Cameroonian sticks at Italy 1990, readily agreed to fill the void. Buffon impressed so much that the positional change instantly became a permanent one. Four years later he was keeping goal in Serie A, and when his first son with Czech beauty Alena Seredova was born in 2007, Buffon gave him the middle name Thomas in honour of the Indomitable Lions great. Neuer, who received his first football as a gift from his parents when he was just two, was 24 days shy of his fifth birthday when he played his first match, in goal for a local side.
Buffon: 126 since 1997
Neuer: 38 since 2009
When Buffon represented Italy in Malta last month, he tied Paolo Maldini in second place on Italy’s list of all-time record appearants, shy only of Fabio Cannavaro (136 caps). “I say that for a sportsman, after the age of 30 you become like a dog: each year is worth seven!” Buffon said post-match. “Maldini told me I’ll reach around 150. If God wills and I keep in good shape, then it is a target I can realise.” Neuer is, alongside Hans Jakob, the joint-eighth most-capped goalkeeper in German football history, behind Sepp Maier (95), Oliver Kahn (86), Harald Schumacher (76), Jens Lehmann (61), Andreas Kopke (59), Bodo Ilgner (54) and Hans Tilkowski (39). However, by representing his country in their last outing – a 4-1 victory over Kazakhstan – one day before his 27th birthday, he became the second-youngest German keeper to reach 38 caps, behind Ilgner (25 years old) and ahead of Maier (28), Schumacher (29), Tilkowski (31), Jakob (31), Kahn (32), Kopke (34) and Lehmann (36).
International goals conceded-per-game ratio
Buffon: 0.77 (97 in 126)
Neuer: 0.84 (32 in 38)
Buffon has kept an incredible 58 clean sheets for La Nazionale (one every 2.2 games), while Neuer has registered 15 for Die Nationalelf (one every 2.5 games). Both have conceded more than three goals just once: the former in Italy’s 4-0 loss to Spain in the UEFA EURO 2012 final and the latter in Germany’s outlandish 4-4 draw at home to Sweden in Brazil 2014 qualifying. Buffon’s international goals conceded-per-game ratio is superior to that of fellow Italy legend Dino Zoff (0.81), while Neuer’s is equal to Maier’s (0.84) and outranks those of Schumacher (0.99) and Kahn (1.14).
Ranking on list of most expensive goalkeeping transfers in history
The summer of 2001 was one of extortionate expenditure, with no fewer ten players – namely Buffon, Antonio Cassano, Gaizka Mendieta, Hidetoshi Nakata, Pavel Nedved, Manuel Rui Costa, Javier Saviola, Lilian Thuram, Juan Sebastian Veron and Zinedine Zidane – moving for over €30m. Second to Zizou was Buffon, whose €54m switch from Parma to Juventus made him the costliest goalkeeper in history, shattering the previous record set when Angelo Peruzzi swapped Inter Milan for Lazio for €17.9m the previous year. Buffon remains easily the most expensive keeper in history and sits eight on the list of costliest players of all time, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kaka, Zidane, Fernando Torres, Luis Figo and Hernan Crespo. Neuer’s transfer from Schalke to Bayern in 2011 just eclipsed the figure Manchester United paid Atletico Madrid for David de Gea that same year, and the Gelsenkirchen native’s fee could rise to as high as €33m depending on the Bavarian giants’ success.
Buffon: 1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss
Neuer: 1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss
The pair first encountered in an international friendly in 2011. Buffon will have been disappointed not to have kept out Miroslav Klose’s deadlock-breaker, but he made a series of fine saves thereafter as Giuseppe Rossi grabbed La Nazionale a 1-1 draw. It got better for Buffon and Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 semi-finals, as Mario Balotelli twice beat Neuer to spark a 2-1 upset. In their only meeting at club level, in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final last week, Buffon was criticised for both goals as Juventus lost 2-0 to Bayern at the Allianz Arena.
Major career titles (excludes single-game competitions)
At the UEFA U-21 Championship in 2009, Neuer kept four clean sheets in five matches – including one of the 4-0 victory over England in the decider – to inspire a Germany side including Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil to glory. He also recorded shut-outs in the semi-final and final as Schalke won the DFB-Pokal in 2011, and though he was a runner-up in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League in his first season at Bayern, last weekend the 27-year-old helped them secure the Bundesliga crown. Buffon’s first career title was also the UEFA U-21 Championship, back in 1996, and he also played a fundamental role in securing Italy the biggest prize of all, going 453 minutes without conceding en route to lifting the FIFA World Cup Trophy at Germany 2006. At club level, the 35-year-old won the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia with Parma, and three Scudetti with Juventus.