Buffon, the sagely calm keeper

Buffon has won the Italian Serie A title nine times, the Italian Cup five times, the Italian Super Cup six times and one UEFA Cup.

With 176 international games under his belt, Buffon is the most capped player in the history of the Italian national team.   -  Getty Images

Gianluigi Buffon has many achievements to his name. With 176 international games under his belt, he is the most capped player in the history of the Italian national team, the fourth-most capped footballer of all time, and the most capped European international player ever.

He has won the Italian Serie A title nine times, the Italian Cup five times, the Italian Super Cup six times and one UEFA Cup.

But his greatest ever moment came when Italy won the World Cup in 2006. It was the time when the Calciopoli scandal was raging back home with his club Juventus in the thick of it, accused of rigging games by selecting favourable referees.

 

Yet, the sagely calm with which Buffon and the rest of the seniors marshalled the side was exemplary. Buffon was sensational during the tournament, conceding only two goals, a World Cup record. In fact, both those goals weren’t from open play; one was an own goal by teammate Cristian Zaccardo against the United States and the other a Zinedine Zidane penalty in the final against France.

On occasions when the usually organised Italian defence proved dodgy, Buffon was up to the task. Against Ukraine, led by Andrei Shevchenko, Buffon made one save after another - four in all - including a double block, of which he was a master.

Then in extra-time against France in the final, with a one-handed effort, he expertly kept out Zidane’s header from a perfect Willy Sagnol cross.

In addition, he went on a 453-minute scoreless streak, only 64 minutes short of compatriot Walter Zenga's all-time unbeaten record from the 1990 World Cup.

These performances earned him the Lev Yashin Award for the Best Goalkeeper at a FIFA World Cup and in that year’s Ballon d'Or [best European player], Buffon finished second to teammate Fabio Cannavaro.