When Gianluigi Buffon made his Parma debut in November 1995, most of his current teammates weren’t even born yet. If I wanted to check this fact then, I would not have succeeded – most of them did not have the Internet yet, and he himself was in a rudimentary studio. Football clubs did not have their own websites at all.
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Five years later, Gigi will already play for the Italian national team and will be called the best goalkeeper in the country and the expensive signing of Juventus, which he cost 54.5 million euros. A record amount, which was broken only 17 years later, when Liverpool bought Alisson for 62.5 million euros.
Two decades later, Buffon’s collection will have 11 league titles, five home cups and a world championship gold. But he left Juventus, turned down prominent teams and agreed to an invitation from Parma.
Buffon is now 43 years old. In the last two years, he was number two in Turin, where the goal was defended by Wojciech Szczęsny. During this period, he entered the field 29 times. They like to say beautifully that “age is just a number”, but people like Zlatan Ibrahimovic (39) and Cristiano Ronaldo (36) prove again and again that there is a certain amount of truth in this. Goalkeepers have been playing longer, but Buffon has already broken all records. The main thing is that the hunger has not gone anywhere.
When he left in 2001, the club’s best era was ending – nine straight top-five seasons, two Italian Cup victories, a UEFA Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. Stars like Lilian Thuram, Gianfranco Zola, Hernan Crespo and Fabio Cannavaro played here. In 15 years, the club will go bankrupt, and its owners will be a couple of steps from the prison.
Now the club, which has gone through a significant reshuffle, will fight in Serie B.
So when will he end his career? No date yet. A couple of years ago, he spoke openly about how he dealt with depression in his youth. Since then, he has become mentally stronger and realized that money cannot buy happiness. For the world of sports, he is a reminder that great is not born, and that even supermen have weak points.