Gianluigi Buffon is a player who needs no introduction, having long been identified as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the game – like his Juventus and Italy predecessor Dino Zoff.
Since winning the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ and being voted best goalkeeper during that tournament, he has taken over the captain's armband – one of Cesare Prandelli’s first decisions when he became coach in 2010. Imperious on his line and a commanding presence in the box, the 36-year-old has lost none of his edge and has no plans to hang up his gloves just yet.
With his tall, slender frame, Buffon was always destined to be a goalkeeper. Capable of making the most difficult saves look easy, especially from point-blank range, there is no apparent weakness in his game. Perhaps one of his main qualities is an ability to put any rare errors he makes to the back of his mind and focus on the match again.
Buffon made his Azzurri debut away against Russia on 29 October 1997. The following year, he travelled to the 1998 World Cup in France as Italy's second-choice keeper. He made his mark at Korea/Japan 2002 by saving a penalty in Italy's fateful golden-goal elimination by Korea Republic in the Round of 16.
That disappointment was forgotten at Germany 2006, however, when Buffon won his first major international trophy. The then 28-year-old had a vital part to play in Italy's penalty shoot-out win in the Final against France, keeping out Zinedine Zidane's extra-time header with a superb leaping save and then winning a bout of spot-kick mind games with his Juve team-mate David Trezeguet, forcing the Frenchman to change his usual penalty-taking technique.
On 11 October 2013, the evergreen shot-stopper surpassed Fabio Cannavaro to become La Nazionale’s most capped player.