Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon is one of the most gifted and individually decorated goalkeepers of his generation. He has an extremely candid and keen intellect which almost seems to fuel his air of mystique: equal part exquisite talent and cold-blooded efficiency, an athlete as master craftsman and performance artist.
But Buffon rarely minces words either. He seems to sidestep a familiar sound-byte trap which often becomes front page controversy or personal minefield from an Italian press that seems to provoke them as reflex response. When journalists ask Buffon a question, they most often receive detailed and thoughtful replies.
Buffon is a man who usually has a smile on his face in the worst of situations. He became a World Cup champion in July 2006 and weeks later, voluntarily descended with Juventus to the obscurity of the Italian Serie B. From the agony of forced relegation to the ecstasy of winning the World Cup, Buffon didn’t miss a beat which speaks volumes to his unique character and enduring reputation amongst players and supporters alike.
Link to Michelangelo Buffon was born in Carrara, Tuscany, on 28 January 1978. Carrara is the same locale where Michelangelo Buonarroti quarried marble for his famous sculptures.
Shares Common Birthplace with Another Famous Italian Footballer Giorgio Chinaglia was a famous Lazio and Italian international during the 1960s and 1970s. He later came to play in North America with the New York Cosmos during the Pele era. Chinaglia became the all-time leading goal scorer in NASL (North American Soccer League) history.
Chinaglia is now a commentator on The Football Show on Sirius XM. Chinaglia and Buffon were both born in Carrara. When told that he shared the same birthplace with Buffon, Chinaglia said:
“I knew I liked Buffon for a reason.” (1)
Career Statistics: Only Two Red Cards Buffon has been a part of the senior Azzurri set-up since 1997. He has made 19 of his 109 Azzurri appearances (at the time of this writing) in World Cup (2002, 2006 and 2010) and European Nations’ Cup competitions (2004 and 2008). In three years with Parma and ten more with Juventus, Buffon has only been sent-off on two occasions - once in the 2009/10 season and the other during 2010/11. (2)
Career Honors (Palmares) There is precious little that Buffon has not won for club, country or individually:
With Parma: UEFA Cup in 1998/99. Coppa Italia in 1998/99. Italian SuperCup in 1999.
With Juventus: Serie A championships: 2001/2 and 2002/3. (2004/5 and 2005/6 were revoked.) Serie B championship in 2006/7. Italian SuperCup: 2002 and 2003.
With the Italian National Junior and Senior Teams: Italy U-21: UEFA U-21 European championship in 1996. Italy Senior: FIFA World Cup championship in 2006. Individual Awards: Bravo Award: 1999. Best European Goalkeeper: 2003. UEFA Champions League Most Valuable Player: 2003. UEFA Club Football Awards Best Goalkeeper: 2003. FIFA 100. Lev Yashin Award: 2006. 2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team. European Footballer of the Year (Silver Ball): 2006. Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. UEFA Team of the Year: 2003, 2004 and 2006. UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2008. FIFPro World XI: 2006, 2007. IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper: 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. UEFA Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament. IFFHS Goalkeeper of the Decade. (3)
Candid Discussion about His Own Depression The tragic death in 2009 of Robert Enke from Hannover 96 reminded the football world of the serious nature of depression. Such a topic, unfortunately, still has a taboo status in many parts of the world. Buffon has suffered from bouts with depression. He discussed the illness and Enke’s death in a 2009 interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport:
"Sono momenti terribili. Perdi completamente il senso di te stesso, non c'è nulla di razionale. Il fatto è che quando soffri di depressione, non devi aver paura a chiedere aiuto e a parlarne a chi ti è vicino. Io l'ho fatto con chi mi voleva bene, ho provato a stare tra la gente e ne sono uscito.
Non so con precisione cosa sia successo nel caso di Enke. Ma a me resta sempre l'impressione che quando succedono tragedie del genere non tutti quelli che potevano fare qualche cosa hanno fatto tutto il possibile."
"They are terrible moments. You completely lose your sense of self, and nothing is rational. The fact is that when you suffer from depression, you don't have to be afraid to ask for help and to speak with those who are close to you. I did it with those who cared a great deal for me, and I tried to be with people during this time and went out.
I don't know with precision what happened in the case of Robert Enke. But for me always remains the impression that when tragedies of this nature occur, everyone that could have done something did not do everything in their power." (4)
Part Owner in Third Division Side, Carrarese Calcio Gigi Buffon became a 20 percent owner in his hometown Lega Pro Prima Divisione side, Carrarese Calcio, in June 2011. This is a team from the Italian third division that Buffon has supported, along with Genoa, since his Tuscan childhood. (5)
Interesting Admission About His Future During a 2011 summer tour of North America, Buffon made rather a startling admission to Gazzetta dello Sport:
"Non ho mai pensato di venire qui a chiudere la mia carriera e finché c’è la fiducia io giocherò nella Juve. Ma da tre o quattro anni ho nella testa la folle idea di fare il c.t. Usa. O della Cina. Sarebbero entrambe due grandi esperienza".
“I have never thought of coming here to close out my career and that’s because I’m confident that I’ll play for Juventus. But for three or four years, I’ve had a crazy idea in my head to manage the U.S. national team. Or perhaps the Chinese team. Either of the two would be great experiences.” (6)
The Mouth of Truth Between the Sticks From the marble quarries of Michelangelo to perhaps one day, the Great Wall of China, Gianluigi Buffon is, as the Romans say, “The mouth of truth.” He could put his hands a thousand times in that famous sculptured mouth and never lose them. But what would we expect from a man who walked the same roads in Carrara, Italy as Michelangelo? Gigi Buffon is one for the ages: Hands as deft as a sculptor; a character as firm as marble.
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