Thursday, October 29, 2009

29 October 1997 - The Start Of A Century

On 29 October 1997, 19-year old Parma goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made his debut for the Italian national team in a 1-1 away draw with Russia in a qualifying playoff match for the 1998 World Cup.

The Azzurri qualifed after defeating Russia 1-0 in Naples on 15 November, but Buffon was an unused substitute for the Cup. He also missed Euro 2000 due to injury. Buffon secured the starting job for the 2002 World Cup, however, and remains Italy's first-choice keeper. As of 10 October 2009, he has made 99 appearances for the Azzurri.

Buffon was an integral part of Italy's World Cup winning side in 2006, giving up only two goals in regulation (an own goal in the group stages against the United States and a penalty in the Final against France). Italy defeated France on penalties, 1-1(5-3) to claim their fourth World Cup trophy. Buffon won the Yashin Award for best keeper in the tournament.

He currently plays for Juventus, with whom he signed in 2001.

[Update: As of 29 October 2011, Buffon now has 110 caps with Italy.]

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