biography
1978

I was born in Carrara on January 28th, 1978, in a family fond of sports.  My mother, Maria Stella Masocco, is from Carrara, too. She won the Italian shot put championship three times and currently holds the Italian record for shot put with 15 metres and 43 centimetres. Moreover, she won Italian discus throw championship 17 times. She holds the Italian record for this specialty, too, with 57 metres and 54 centimetres. The interesting fact is, both records were set on the very same day - May 14th, 1972.

My father Adriano was born in Latisana, near Udine. He used to be an "azzurro" shot putter and ranked second at the European Athletics Junior Championships.  In total, he was called up to the junior squad for 15 times, and one in the senior one.

After his agonistic career ended, he became a P.E. teacher. In other words, I'm the proud son of two "azzurri".

And my sisters are not less so. Actually, both Guendalina and Veronica practise volleyball. They're older than me but they are from Carrara like me and my mother. They both played in Serie A1 and for the national squad.

Guendalina won a Champions League when playing for Mater. Her husband, Mario Caruso, is a sportsman, too. He is basketball player.  This is to say that my whole family has given me enough motivation to practise sports.



1984

In my life I've been practising almost any kind of sport. Anyway, I knew I would become a footballer since I was 6 and used to play with my mates.
Back then, my parents made me join 'Canaletto' football school in La Spezia.
Memories go back to my coach, Libero Salvetti, and many other kids like me who craved to play football.
And then, when in the Junior squad, I was given the opportunity to play in 'Perticata', the local Carrara football team.
I have great memories of my coaches Boni, Rosini and Avallone, as well as many of my teammates.
Back then I was not even given a specific position, though I was quite fond of goalkeepers. I often played in the midfield, and I was quite good.



1988

When I was child - and a midfielder, as well - Lothar Mattheaus was one of my favourite footballers.
Back then, I liked teams and sportsmen that were a bit odd and outside the box.
Though a true supporter of Genoa FC, I was also very passionate about Galeone's Pescara team. When I was 10, I played my first match as midfielder at San Siro stadium during a junior competition for Italian players from Tuscany and Veneto.
What a feeling! We actually played before the match Inter/Verona in the 1988-89 season, when Inter would then win the Scudetto! If I'm not wrong, Inter won the championship thanks to Berti's goal.




1990

Anyway, my greatest idol was Thomas N'Kono, the great Cameroon's goalkeeper.  The whole world got to know him during the 1982 World Cup. Unfortunately, I was far too young to even remember about him.  He won my love during Italy 1990 when, in the opening match of the championship, his national squad inflicted a crushing defeat on the current world champions, Argentina, to be only defeated by England in the quarter-final round, where two generous penalty kicks were awarded to the British squad. I cried that night.
Just after the World Cup, I arrived in Bonascola. I was 12 when I chose what position I'd like to play for good.
A bit due to my passion for N'Kono, a bit due to my last name... but mostly because I really enjoyed playing football as a goalkeeper.
You know, everybody used to know Lorenzo Buffon, the great goalkeeper of Inter and Milan teams. Being compared to him has never bothered me. However, I must say that, when I introduced myself to new people, they used to have a look on their face as if they were in front of a chosen one. Or, even worse than that, one with friends in high places.
Indeed, we are distant relatives. He is my grandfather's cousin. We must have met five or six times in my whole lifetime.
As to Bonascola, I must say that both coach Piserini - a former goalkeeper - and goalkeeping coach Avio Manconi had a significant impact on me.




1992

At the youth club, Fulgoni has always been my goalkeeping coach; after Polli, Rabitti became my head coach. My story goes on with the Allievi Nazionali (under 16) squad.
Parma Youth Club was amazing! I'm still friends with many of my mates there, some of whom have now become renowned professionals like Morello, Falsini, Baron, Franceschini.
In Beretti team, Michelangelo Benedetto was the head coach, while Salvoni was the coach of the under-19 team. Meanwhile, I was supposed and likely to join the senior squad. You know, back in 1995 I was just 17...



1995

The shortlist included great goalkeepers like Bucci, Galli and Nista. However, Nevio Scala promptly proved to have faith in me.

During summer he let me play the last minutes of a friendly match we were winning 4-0, and I made the best of me.

Actually, the fool of me. Anyway, despite being aware I was nothing more than a promising guy, Scala never stopped believing in me. He tried to be my mentor, even outside the field. Parma chairmen made their best not to make me feel too unfamiliar with professionalism.

 

This is just to say that, as many other professional footballers, I had meanwhile found a sports agent.

And Silvano Martina is still my agent.

When I was 14 he refused to meet me as he considered me too young. Two years later we met during a tournament in Viareggio. We've been together ever since.

At once he gave me a good impression. Could this be related to his being a former Genoa goalkeeper?

 

My first (and only) agent. The first sponsors.

The very first one was Uhlsport, and then Reusch. Now I'm with Puma, and I'm very happy with that.

I hope the companies that believed in me are satisfied with what I've done. For my part, I have always done my best.

 

Let's get back to 1995-96 season.

Bucci got hurt during the match against Halmstads for the UEFA Cup. Galli had gone to Lucchese, so the following Sunday Scala made Nista play, yet keeping an eye on me. And then, on November 19th, 1995, something changed. He said I was ready to play.

Goalkeeper coach, Di Palma, had been working a lot to make me improve my technique, so I felt I had improved.

 

I felt happy rather than thrilled. Such a strange feeling for a 17-year-old guy playing his first cap.
As soon as I set my feet on the field, I felt like being so familiar with playing in Serie A. I mean, I didn't overestimate myself. I just felt I belonged there. Again, as I said, I was very happy.

And then, I must say that the situation would be potentially tense even for a skilled player, let alone a boy. My mates were so good. Sensini, Couto, and Apolloni didn't spend much time giving me suggestions. That meant I was ready. With the exception of Stoitchkov, who whispered in my ear some words I have not forgotten, yet. It ended 0-0. I didn't let any goal in. I could not have asked for more. I totaled some more 8 caps during that season. However, I stayed on the bench, as Bucci was the regular goalkeeper.
During the following season, Parma chairmen decided to have another coach. That's when I met Ancelotti.
He didn't know me. Yet, he considered me and Bucci as equals. And then, you know, I got ready for this.
Despite of this, I couldn't get off to a good start. In November Zola went to Chelsea. And then, upon Christmas, some matches in a row turned out to be really thrilling. I have beautiful memories of that season. The squad was okay, but my mates were fantastic!
So many friends and players that were either strong or likely to be strong: Apolloni, Benarrivo, Cannavaro, Thuram, Dino Baggio, Crippa, Stanic, Chiesa, Crespo. In the following year, always coached by Ancelotti, we thought we were the strongest, but we achieved no results.
I have many friends left from that time, as much as the hours of work with William Vecchi who taught me to be merciless and bold when trying to reach the ball first.



1997

In the meantime, the first National squad came into my life, too, after completing the whole path in the youth clubs.My debut was on October 29th 1997 during the World Cup qualifications against Russia in Moscow; my coach was Cesare Maldini and it was freezing...I was really excited there, much more than in San Siro against Milan. A few seconds after I entered the field, I made a difficult save and I broke through.
When the coach called me for the 1998 World Cup, I walked on air: participating to the World Cup at twenty! I was aware to be the third-choice keeper, but you clearly always have a 1% hope in your heart that you'll play. Then Peruzzi got injured and, just like magic, I became the backup keeper, behind Pagliuca. Maldini trusted me, but the pecking order was very clear, so there were no problems.

 

During that summer Ancelotti left Parma; Malesani took over as coach and Paese as goalkeeper trainer.

An extraordinary season, with many strong players who now represented a certainty, not the promising youth of few season earlier.

We won Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup, Supercoppa Italiana.

During the second year with Malesani we were convinced we could rule the world, but we had a huge disappointment and in the end we even lost the playoff match for the fourth position against Inter, which would allow us to be admitted to the Champions League. Adding disappointment to disappointment, due to a fracture of my finger, I also missed the Euro 2000 with the Italian national squad, which then ranked second with Toldo as a goalkeeper.


2001

In 2001, after another season of neglected promises, I understood that some projects had changed and the Tanzi family wanted to start a new era. The time of top purchases and direct competition with the big teams was over: we players needed to acknowledge that. Crespo had already gone to Lazio during the previous year, and Thuram and I did the same during that summer.

Why didn't we manage to win a Scudetto with Parma? I have often wondered this, without finding a suitable answer.

In opposition to what most people say, there was everything needed to win there: an excellent environment, surely very motivating...Perhaps, if we kept trying for some other year - just like Sampdoria did in the '80s and first years of the '90 - the Scudetto would have come.
Thinking about it, if we stuck together, we could have been like 1991 Sampdoria; but in football many things had changed and such a project had become impossible in Parma.
Once I understood a cycle was over, I started to look around. There was no lack of offers.
Roma and Barcelona were very close to me for some time, but I knew that Juventus was looking for a goalkeeper after Van der Sar left; so, when a good offer arrived (both for Parma and for me), I had no hesitation and accepted.
After ten years it was time to move out again.
The first impact with the white-black environment is not easy, especially if you are used to Parma's relationships and pace, but the awareness of being in one of the most important clubs in the world can make you overcome anything.
And if the Scudetto comes at the first attempt, with that incredible overtaking against Inter at the eleventh hour, everything gets easier.





2002/03

It's during this season that, for the first time and after a series of top-level matches, I am voted as best goalkeepers in the world in the IFFHS ranking.
Then there is another Scudetto with Juventus and an exciting path in Champions League, where we beat Real Madrid and were beaten only on penalty kicks during the final match against Milan. I am voted best 2002/2003 Champions League player.
I really wished the 2002 World Cup would be my World Cup. Trapattoni considered me as a regular, even though I knew I could not have drops in performance, considering Toldo's skills.
There were many hopes; however, due to a number of reasons and, at the same time, for no specific reason, we didn't do great in the tournament.
Referee mistakes, some players not in top shape, Nesta and Cannavaro out in the decisive match: mix all of this and you'll have a summary of Italy's World Cup.
During the round of sixteen, at minute 4, I stretched on the right and saved a penalty kicked by the Korean Ahn; I admit that, after Vieri's goal, I hope in a big success. But it ended up differently, what a pity. 

2004/05

It's the year of Capello and our chase of Milan; we manage to win the Scudetto, but we would be stripped of the title... In Champions League, we go out during the quarter-final against Liverpool.
During the friendly match against Milan - part of the "Trofeo Berlusconi" - I collide with Kakà and suffer from a dislocated shoulder, forcing me out for 3 months.


2006

I come back as a regular in January 2006; it's the year of "Calciopoli", the Italian football scandal In any case, we end up at the top of the ranking. It's the year that would see Juventus in Serie B... 

But it's also the year when Italy wins the World Cup in Germany: a strong desire to start over again and find back freshness, cheerfulness, enthusiasm, spurs and newer motivation

2007/08

During the new season in Serie A, before the match against Genoa, I am voted as best goalkeeper in the world for fourth year.
Afterwards, I start suffering from backache, caused by a slipped disc, forcing me to often rest outside the field.
On March 10th 2008 I renew my contract binding me to Juventus FC until 2013. I want to win everything with the white-black shirt.




2008/09

In the 2008-2009 season I miss the beginning of the season due to an injury and I come back on the field in January, first during a friendly match against Monaco and then in Coppa Italia against Catania.
The following two years are not lucky, both for me and for Juventus; indeed, due to various injuries - first to my meniscus and then to my back - I am forced to skip many matches in the 2009-2010 season and half of the 2010-2011 season.

In between, I take part in the World Cup in South Africa, where I get injured in the back during the first match; this would prevent me to keep playing in the tournament. Unfortunately, that tournament would be very brief for Italy.

In June 2011 Antonio Conte becomes the team coach and, since the very first moment, I feel positive about the new season, feelings that would become more and more positive after the first match in our new stadium.


2011-12

season would be full of emotions and would allow me to celebrate the victory in the Serie A championship after a long time and to experience a great adventure with the national squad that would lead us to the European final lost against Spain.

 

In August, with the "Scudetto" sewn on my chest, I lift a cup as captain for the first time. It's the Supercoppa Italiana, won against Napoli in Beijing. This would mark the beginning of another great season in white-black, during which I would reach 400 caps with Juventus, I would renew my contract with the team for other 2 years, and, above all, we would confirm to be Italian Champions and get to the quarter-finals in Champions League.

 

The new season - number 13 in white-black - has already begun with a win in Supercoppa against Lazio and with the desire to further improve compared to previous seasons.

 

Gigi Buffon

Gianluigi Buffon All rights reserved © 2013. Foto Juventus Fornite da