Gianluigi Buffon

Why Do People Love Gianluigi Buffon?

Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon is widely considered one of the greatest goalkeepers in football history. The Italian shot-stopper has enjoyed an incredibly successful 25-year career at the highest level of the sport, winning numerous trophies for both club and country.

But why exactly do fans and pundits hold Buffon in such high regard? This article explores the key reasons behind his popularity.

Incredible Longevity and Consistency

One of the most remarkable things about Buffon is his longevity at the top level. The fact that he has maintained such consistently high standards for over two decades in one of the most demanding positions in football is testament to his dedication and natural ability.

Buffon made his Serie A debut as a 17-year-old for Parma way back in 1995. After joining Juventus in 2001, he racked up over 500 appearances during a trophy-laden spell that saw him win nine Serie A titles and four Coppa Italias. He even played until the age of 41 before retiring in 2019 (only to later rejoin Parma in Serie B aged 43!).

This longevity can be highlighted in the table below:

YearAgeClubKey Achievements
199517ParmaSerie A debut
2001-201823-40Juventus9 x Serie A, 4 x Coppa Italia
2018-201940-41PSGLigue 1 winner
2020-Present43+ParmaReturn in Serie B

The fact that Buffon has maintained the physical fitness, motivation and abilities to perform at the pinnacle of the sport well into his 40s is almost unparalleled. This longevity and consistency has naturally endeared him to fans worldwide.

Incredible Shot-Stopping Abilities

Of course, the main currency for any goalkeeper is their shot-stopping capabilities. And there is no doubt that Buffon established himself as one of the very best in this regard.

At 6’3” tall, Buffon combines his impressive physique with outstanding agility, reactions and technique. This allows him to produce gravity-defying stops that have punctuated his career with regularity.

Some of Buffon’s most memorable saves have come on the biggest stages for club and country:

  • The penalty save in extra time during the 2006 World Cup final shootout – denying Zidane as Italy eventually triumphed over France
  • Point-blank stop to deny Robben in added time of the 2003 Champions League semi-final – keeping Juventus’ aggregate lead intact as they progressed to the final
  • One-handed save to tip Ibrahimovic’s header onto the bar in a crucial Serie A clash in 2012 – showing incredible athleticism aged 34

These moments of shot-stopping brilliance have provided fans with a collection of iconic Buffon saves to savour – showcasing his credentials as one of the game’s premier goalkeepers.

Shot-Stopping Stats and Awards

As well as eye-catching saves in crunch matches, Buffon’s shot-stopping excellence is underlined by impressive statistics:

  • 300+ clean sheets during his club career
  • Ballon d’Or runner up in 2006 – the highest ever finish for a goalkeeper at that time
  • UEFA Club Best Goalkeeper Award holder (2016/17)
  • Serie A Best Goalkeeper Award x12

This individual recognition and statistical evidence backs up what fans have witnessed live so many times – that they have been watching one of football’s greatest ever last lines of defence.

Passion, Leadership and Work Ethic

While talent and ability can take a player to the top, it typically requires dedication, leadership and determination to stay there for over two decades like Buffon has managed.

The Italian has shown outstanding leadership qualities as Juventus and Italy captain over many years. This included marshaling a staunch Juventus defense throughout his time in Turin, plus leading Italy to World Cup glory in 2006.

Equally important has been Buffon’s sheer passion and visible desire to win. The sprawling saves, authoritative organizational skills and raw emotional celebrations have provided captivating images that have endeared him to many.

It is also clear that behind the on-pitch passion lies an incredible work ethic and competitive spirit that has served Buffon so well. He has spoken frequently about his meticulous preparation, training ground approach and constant pursuit of improvement.

Ultimately, Buffon’s longevity is not just down to talent – but also these wider traits that have made him such an inspirational sporting icon.

Becoming a Fan Favorite in Turin and Parma

Most players with the sustained success of Buffon would assume ‘legend’ status at their clubs. But the goalkeeper has gone beyond this at both Parma and Juventus to become a truly adored figure among fans.

After coming through Parma’s academy, Buffon’s early emergence made him a star and poster boy of a talented team in the late 1990s. His return 20 years later for their Serie B campaign also demonstrated the mutual affection between player and club.

However, it is the special relationship between Buffon and Juventus supporters that stands out. Buffon instantly became a fans’ favorite upon arriving from Parma in 2001 and remained the idol of many even during a short spell at PSG.

“In Turin, I have found everything a player could want – it’s my second family,” – Gianluigi Buffon

The unwavering support and popularity Buffon enjoys among Juve fans is built on a foundation of his world-class ability, passion and trophies. But his connection runs deeper – with the club and its fans sharing an inseparable bond.

Becoming an Italian National Icon

Buffon sits behind only Maldini in terms of Italy caps after amassing 176 appearances for the Azzurri. Like at club level, he soon established himself as #1 for Italy following his debut in 1997 aged just 19.

Buffon was the pillar of Marcello Lippi’s 2006 World Cup winning side. His decisive penalty stop in the final shootout made him an instant national hero as wild celebrations erupted both inside Berlin’s Olympiastadion and on the streets back home.

That night in Germany cemented Buffon’s status as more than just a footballer in Italy. Instead, he had become a national icon and symbol of Italian success across the country.

Buffon’s popularity among Italians has endured ever since – transcending sport and making him a prominent figure in Italian culture who advertisers clamor to have represent their brands.

Becoming a Global Ambassador for Football

Such has been the scale of Buffon’s success that his popularity extends far beyond just fans of his clubs and country. Instead, he has become an iconic and recognizable figure to football supporters globally.

Buffon’s trademark charisma, fist-pumping celebrations, gravity-defying stops and winning mentality have provided an enduring narrative for fans worldwide to invest in. On top of this, Buffon’s international exposure means supporters from across the planet identify him with their prized Champions League memories.

Buffon’s clean cut, sponsor-friendly image has also seen him become a respected global ambassador for football. He is regularly featured across TV, print and social media – bringing the game to new audiences through endorsements and interviews alike.

The Juventus foundation even cited Buffon’s global appeal as justification for not assigning his old #1 shirt to any one player following his departure – instead taking it out of circulation to honor his lasting legacy at the club.

This popular appeal across geographies and generations consolidates Buffon’s position as one of football’s most universally adored stars.

Charisma, Wit and Warm Personality

A final piece completing the Gianluigi Buffon jigsaw is his engaging public persona that has delighted fans and journalists over the years.

Never shy in front of the cameras, Buffon carries an inherent charisma accompanied by excellent comic timing and delivery that translates across multiple languages. This has brought entertainment and laughter to many over the course of his long career.

Equally, the Italian legend displays gratitude and warmth which shines through in his media commitments and interactions with supporters of all ages.

This authentic, witty and sincere personal side to Buffon enhances his rapport with fans and broader likability as he handles fame with class and humility.

Why is Buffon So Popular? – A Summary

To recap, here are the main reasons behind Gianluigi Buffon’s widespread popularity:

  • Remarkable longevity and consistency at the highest level
  • Gravity-defying shot-stopping skills and big game performances
  • Outstanding leadership, passion and work ethic
  • Adored by fans at Parma, Juventus and across Italy
  • Global fame through World Cup and Champions League heroics
  • Appealing charisma and persona on/off the field

Few players can match Buffon’s longevity or sustained greatness. And even fewer balance world-class talent with the passion, determination and charm that have made Buffon such an icon.

Ultimately, Buffon’s unparalleled success coupled with his charisma and rapport with supporters means retirement has merely marked the beginning of an enduring, universally popular legacy that will last for decades.

Why is Buffon Still Playing Professionally in his 40s?

As mentioned, Buffon returned to former club Parma ahead of the 2022/23 season aged 44. This was his second playing comeback, having already performed a U-turn on retirement once before at 41. But what is driving this footballing great to keep pulling his gloves back on rather retire permanently?

Still Loves Playing Football

First and foremost, Buffon himself says he simply still loves playing football despite having already achieved more than most players’ wildest dreams. In 2021 he stated:

“If I still feel like a talented, worthy player, why should I stop playing just because reaching a certain age?”

Clearly, the passion for competing and training remains strong for Buffon despite his veteran status. And emotionally, it is likely hard to permanently sever ties after dedicating his entire adult life to professional football thus far.

The Opportunity to Help Parma

Sentimentally, rejoining Parma was likely an offer too good for Buffon to turn down. After progressing through their academy, he has an emotional attachment to the Italian club where he laid the foundations for his legendary career.

Now in Serie B following financial turmoil, Buffon spoke of his desire to help them gain promotion after “they gave me everything and allowed me to realize my dreams.”

So as well as playing on for personal enjoyment, Buffon now has an extra motivational pull to achieve one more career goal.

Records Are Still in Sight

Remarkably, despite all Buffon’s trophies and caps amassed, at 44 he still has some appearance-based records in sight if he plays another season or two.

For example, he sits:

  • Second for most Serie A appearances – needing only 35 more to break the all-time record
  • Seventh for most Serie B appearances – just 57 adrift of first place
  • Fourth for most Italy caps – seven away from record holder Maldini

Achieving any these landmarks would further confirm Buffon’s legendary longevity. These targets provide extra incentive to battle on.

Can Provide Experience and Leadership

While Buffon clearly still has obvious talent, his veteran experience alone is invaluable for Parma as they seek a return to Serie A. He can pass on wisdom and leadership to less experienced teammates during this transitional period.

Many pundits also feel Buffon could play until 50 based on his goalkeeping style. So defying ‘Father Time’ further also seems possible if Buffon chooses to.

Ultimately, the passion still appears strong for Buffon alongside some appealing incentives to continue playing. So reversing the second retirement of his career to help Parma seems a fitting way to wind down this mammoth stint as a professional footballer.

Moments in Buffon’s Career

Buffon’s 25+ year career has provided fans with endless memorable moments. Here are 5 iconic instances that capture different facets of his success.

The Penalty Save that Won Italy the 2006 World Cup

As mentioned, Buffon’s decisive save from Zidane’s penalty was the defining moment of Italy’s 2006 World Cup triumph. Cementing his ‘Superman’ reputation, this gravity-defying stop brought global fame and idol status back home.

Captaining Juventus to Serie A Title #9 in 2018/19 Aged 41

In his final season with Juventus before initially retiring, Buffon showed his class remains permanent by skippering The Old Lady to yet another Serie A crown aged 41. This made him the oldest ever winner of Italy’s top division.

Keeping a Clean Sheet on Italy Debut vs Russia Aged Only 19

Buffon had already made people sit up and take notice for Parma, but he immediately showcased his talent after being called up by Italy as a teenager. He marked his international arrival by keeping a clean sheet against Russia in 1998.

Winning World Goalkeeper of the Year Aged Just 23 Years Old

After helping deliver Serie A glory in 2002, Buffon claimed the prestigious Lev Yashin award for best goalkeeper in the world while still in his early 20s – outranking Kahn and Casillas. This marked him out as Planet Football’s #1 stopper.

Breaking Serie A Clean Sheet Record with Juventus in 2017/18

Yet another remarkable career milestone. Aged 40 here, Buffon racked up his 335th Serie A clean sheet against Verona to surpass the league’s longstanding record. A proud moment befitting his world-class Italian club career.

Conclusion and Buffon’s Lasting Legacy

In closing, the scale of passion held toward Gianluigi Buffon becomes fully understandable once reviewing his outstanding 25-year career.

His unprecedented longevity and sustained class will likely never be replicated in the modern era. Meanwhile, Buffon’s trademark charisma, style and charm have made him this era’s quintessential goalkeeping superstar.

While individual moments like that 2006 World Cup triumph have already written Buffon into Italian folklore forever, his enduring legacy stretches much further.

Generations of football fans worldwide have been enthralled by Buffon’s shot-stopping showreels for both club and country. His role in some of the most gripping matches and penalty shootouts ever witnessed make him an integral character in Champions League and World Cup history.

Buffon has since deservedly assumed the mantle of ‘GOAT’ goalkeeper in the eyes of most observers. Critical acclaim, broken records and trophies represent mere confirmation of his right to this title after so majestically excelling for so long at the very top.

Therefore, through a mix of longevity, ability and charisma like no other goalkeeper in modern history, Buffon will forever remain etched in football’s pantheon of greats. If there was ever still doubt, his ongoing desire to perform aged 44 shows that fire in the legendary Italian burns as bright as ever.

Questions Fans Ask About Buffon

Gianluigi Buffon’s incredibly successful 25-year playing career at the highest level has understandably left fans with many questions about this legendary figure. Here are 5 of the key details supporters often want answered about the Italian great:

What is Buffon’s Playing Style and How Does He Still Perform so Well Aged 44?

Renowned for his athleticism earlier in his career, Buffon adapted his playing style as he has aged. He now relies more on outstanding positioning, decision-making and shot-stopping technique to remain one of the world’s best goalkeepers despite being 44.

What is Buffon’s Family Life Like – Does He Have a Wife and Children?

Buffon married Czech model Alena Šeredová in 2011, who he had met in 2005 through mutual friends. They have two children together – Louis Thomas (born 2007) and David Lee (born 2009). In 2021 it was reported that Buffon and Šeredová had divorced.

What Businesses, Investments and Commercial Deals Does He Have?

Very successful off the pitch too, Buffon runs a number of businesses alongside endorsements. This includes a sportswear brand (Buffon), a series of academies (Buffon Academy) and various investments. He also works as an ambassador for brands like Pepsi and Fiat as part of commercial deals.

What is Buffon’s Playing Future Beyond Parma – Could he Join Management or Coaching?

As referenced earlier, even in his 40s Buffon remains open to playing elsewhere beyond 2023 if any interesting opportunities arise. He may do some coaching but seems less inclined currently to follow management. Though Buffon admits he remains uncertain himself about precisely what comes after hanging up the gloves.

Who Does Buffon Support Outside Football and Which Former Players Does he Admire?

Outside sport, Buffon has spoken of his admiration for figures like Oscar Wilde and Borsellino who dedicated themselves to causes with integrity. Within football, Buffon cites former Italy and Milan captain Franco Baresi as his idol growing up thanks to his leadership style and competitiveness.

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