Gianluigi "Gigi" Buffon (Italian pronunciation: [dʒanluˈiːdʒi bufˈfɔn], Ufficiale OMRI; born 28 January 1978) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for and captains Serie A club Juventus and the Italy national team. He is widely regarded by players, pundits and managers as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and, by some, as the greatest ever.[nb 2] Buffon was the runner-up for the Ballon d'Or in 2006, and was elected to be part of the FIFPro World XI, an honour which he also achieved two more times. He is the first goalkeeper ever to win the Golden Foot Award, which pertains to both personality and playing ability. He was also the first goalkeeper ever to win the Serie A Footballer of the Year award, and has also been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record 12 times. He has also been named the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper a record five times, alongside Iker Casillas, and was also named the best goalkeeper of the 21st century, of the past 25 years, and of the decade, by the same organisation. Buffon has won 21 trophies in his career, including eight Serie A titles, one Serie B title, four Coppa Italia titles, six Supercoppa Italiana titles, one UEFA Cup title and one FIFA World Cup title. He holds the record for the most clean sheets in Serie A, and with the Italy national team; he also holds the record for the longest streak without conceding a goal in Serie A history: over 12 league matches, he went unbeaten for 974 consecutive minutes during the 2015–16 season, as well as having achieved the most consecutive clean sheets (10) in Serie A in that same season. He is also one of only eighteen players to have made at least 1,000 professional career appearances.
At club level, Buffon's professional career began with Parma in 1995, where he made his Serie A debut. He soon earned a reputation as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Italy, and helped Parma win the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Cup and the Supercoppa Italiana, in 1999. After joining Juventus in 2001 for the world record fee for a goalkeeper at €52 million, Buffon won Serie A titles in both of his first two seasons at the club, and established himself as one of the best players in the world in his position. Two more consecutive league titles in 2005 and 2006, were later stripped due to Juventus involvement in the 2006 Italian football scandal. With Juventus relegated, Buffon defied rumours of his departure, and contributed to the club's Serie B title and promotion back to Serie A in 2007. Buffon later played a key role in Juventus's resurgence, which saw the club win an Italian record of six consecutive league titles between 2011 and 2017; he also inherited the captain's armband following the departure of Alessandro Del Piero in 2012. With Juventus, he has won a record eight Serie A titles, as well as three Coppa Italia titles, and five Supercoppa Italiana titles.
With 176 international caps, Buffon is the most capped player in the history of the Italy national team, the fourth-most capped footballer of all time, and the most capped European international player ever; Buffon also holds the record most appearances for Italy as captainafter he inherited the armband following the departure of Fabio Cannavaro in 2010. Buffon has been called up for a record of five FIFA World Cup tournaments (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) since making his debut in 1997; he was an unused substitute in the 1998 edition. He was the starting goalkeeper of the squad that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He has also represented Italy at four European Championships, at the 1996 Olympics, and at two FIFA Confederations Cups, winning a bronze medal in the 2013edition of the tournament. He retired from international football in 2017, after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, although he later came out of retirement for the teams friendlies the following year.
Buffon was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players in 2004. Following his 2006 World Cup victory with Italy, where he kept a record five clean sheets, he won the Yashin Award, in which he was also elected to be part of the Team of the Tournament; an honour which he also received after reaching the quarter-finals of the 2008 European Championship, and the final of the 2012 European Championship. Buffon is the only goalkeeper to have won the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year Award, which he won after reaching the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final; he also won the award for best Goalkeeper that year, and was voted into the UEFA Team of the Year five times. After reaching the 2015 and 2017 Champions League finals, he was named to the Champions League Squad of the Season on both occasions, and also won the inaugural The Best FIFA Goalkeeper award.