Is Gianluigi Buffon the greatest goalkeeper of all-time?

Whether you talk about longevity or trophies, Gianluigi Buffon’s name is near the top — if not at the top — of the list of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time.

Buffon is one of a small number of footballers to make more than 1,000 professional appearances for club and country. At 42, the Juventus shot-stopper just set the record for the most Serie A appearances and plans to play at least one more season in 2020-21.

Gianluigi Buffon: The greatest

Against city rival Torino on July 4, Buffon set a new appearance record in Serie A making his 648th all-time. Although Buffon is Juventus’ No. 2 goalie nowadays, he has still made 14 appearances in all competitions. Buffon’s 648 Serie A appearances broke the previous record of 647 set by former AC Milan great Paulo Maldini.

Last summer, he returned to Juventus after a season at Paris Saint-Germain. Having won a World Cup, nine Serie A titles, and a UEFA Cup, Buffon still has not won the UEFA Champions League. After missing out with Juventus in 2015 as runners-up, Buffon joined PSG believing it would be his best chance at lifting the trophy. It wasn’t and he returned to Juventus to continue playing at his beloved Italian club.

The road to the top

Buffon became a Serie A regular in 1996 after coming through the Parma youth academy. His time at Parma coincided with the club spending heavily on talent and having a golden generation of players including Lilian Thuram, Hernan Crespo, Dino Baggio, Fabio Cannavaro, and Juan Sebastian Veron.

Parma won the 1999 UEFA Cup but unfortunately had to sell their top players shortly thereafter due to financial mismanagement. In July 2001, Gianluigi Buffon was sold to Juventus for €52 million making him the most expensive goalkeeper at the time. That deal also saw Thuram arrive at Juventus and many insiders cite Buffon alone cost £32m. He was just 23 at the time and displaced Edwin van der Sar in the team. He is still the fifth-most expensive goalie of all-time.

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