The sporting future of Gianluigi was predetermined when he was a child. His dad was a weightlifter, his mother was the champion of Italy in discus throwing, his uncle was a professional basketball player, and his sisters were water polo players.
Buffon made his debut at the age of 19 years on October 29, 1997 in a match against Russia at the Dynamo Stadium. The young goalkeeper came on as a substitute instead of the injured Gianluca Paliuki. That match ended with the score 1: 1. Italy were eliminated in the quarter-finals on penalties to hosts and eventual 1998 World Cup champions France.
Juventus Turin became the main club in Buffon’s career. Buying Gigi in 2001 cost the old bosses 75 billion lire (€ 54 million), an incredible amount for those years. By the way, this transfer record for goalkeepers held on for 17 years.
On February 7, 2011, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics recognized Buffon as the best goalkeeper of the decade. Two years earlier, he was awarded the title of best goalkeeper from 1987 to 2009.
His first missed goal in Serie A, Italy’s top division, was in the game “Parma” against Juventus. The author of the goal was Ciro Ferrara – the future team partner, and then the mentor and new Juventus coach.
Buffon’s career almost ceased to take off – in 2004 he was facing a penalty of two years in prison for using a fake law degree. In fact, the Italian does not even have a high school diploma, which he had to quit because of football.
Gigi was one of the few players in the star club Juventus who did not leave, when it became one of the five clubs linked to a 2006 Italian football scandal. The club placed at the bottom of the league table and relegated to Serie B (lower division) for the first time in its history, for participating in corruption schemes with a bribe judge. For example key players like, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, Gianluca Zambrotta and others left the team for that ill-fated 2006.
The first (of two) Buffon’s wife was the Czech model Alena Shedorova.
They met in 2005 and got married in 2011, but after three years they filled divorce. They have two sons together, Louis Thomas (born in 2007) and David Lee (born in 2009).
Buffon owns a wine business. Just like some other footballers and sports stars, Buffon enjoys tasting a glass of his own wine. Recently in 2017, Buffon launched his own brand of wine under the of “Buffon #1”.
He is keeping the production limited to 90,000 bottles per year with 30,000 each of red, white and rose, while also producing 30,000 bottles of olive oil per year. The price of the wines range from $22 to $33.
Today Buffon is celebrating his 41st birthday. And so does his fans. He has been one of the best goalkeepers in footballing history, and even today, Buffon continues to mesmerize us on the field.
The Italian has had a long career which started in 1995, and he’s still going at Paris Saint-Germain.
Some of his current team-mates such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were among the first to send their best wishes to Buffon on Twitter.
‘Happy birthday legend!’ Neymar wrote. ‘May God bless your life always, an honour to be part of your history. Idol @gianluigibuffon.’ He shared a couple of pictures of himself and Buffon embracing.
‘Happy birthday, Grandpa Gigi,’ joked Kylian Mbappe in his tweet. ‘An immense honor to have this opportunity to rub shoulders with you and learn by your side everyday.’
We salute the legend on his birthday.