Parma, Juventus and Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon is celebrating 20 years in the game today, with his debut for Il Crociati coming way back in 1995.
The highly-decorated Italian is widely regarded as one of the best ‘keepers of all time but the 37-year-old recently told Uefa.com that he started out wanting to score goals rather than prevent them.
“I liked scoring goals; in the end it’s all about scoring goals. Then, from the age of six or seven, I played in midfield, even as a sweeper, and I liked it a lot to be honest. I was a very active child,” he said.
“But it seems destiny made me a goalkeeper. My dad suggested I change and try to play in goal. I always liked being at the heart of the action, trying to experience different situations and different challenges
Outfield’s loss seems to have been the goalkeepers’ union’s gain but just how good is Gigi?
We’ve put the Italian in what we feel is a line-up of the best ‘keepers of the last 20 years. Read on and have your say in the poll below.
Buffon started his career at Parma where a Uefa Cup, Coppa Italia and Supercopa Italiana came his way before a record-breaking €52m bid from Juventus saw him move to Turin. More than 400 games later Buffon has won six Scudettos and another Coppa Italia with the Old Lady and also has a World Cup trophy to show for his 154 Azzurri caps.
Schmeichel is best remembered for his dominating displays at the heart of the Manchester United side that ruled the 90s. With five Premier League titles, three FA Cups, a League Cup and the Champions league win that crowned the historic 1999 treble he is considered an Old Trafford great – despite going onto play for Manchester City. A European Championship trophy with unfancied Denmark in 1992 also gives him national treasure status in his homeland.
With over 300 appearances for Chelsea and 118 for the Czech Republic Cech has been an unflappable last line of defence for many a year. Still going strong at Arsenal he could yet add to a trophy haul that includes four Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, three League Cups, both the Champions League and Europa League.
Edwin van der Sar
A multiple title and Champions League winner with Ajax the Dutchman enjoyed muted success with subsequent clubs Juventus and Fulham – winning the Intertoto Cup with both sides – before resurgence with Manchester United. Four Premier Leagues, two League Cups and the 2008 Champions league saw a United stopper emerge from Schmeichel’s shadow for the first time.
At just 29 the German ‘sweeper-keeper’ has plenty of years to improve his claims but with a cabinet full of football’s biggest trophies already the Bayern Munich man could win the poll already. Three Bundesligas, two DFB Pokals a DFL Super Cup, the Champions League and a Uefa Super Cup show his club dominance but the World Cup title he won in 2014 means he could already retire as one of the greats.
If it’s the most successful ‘keeper of the last two decades you’re after, look no further. Five La Ligas, two Copa del Reys, four Supercopa Espana , three Champions League crowns and a Uefa Super Cup mean the Real Madrid legend is unrivalled in terms of club success. However his claims are improved with the addition of not only the World Cup but two European Championships with Spain.
So there you have the lowdown of the honours but who do you think was the best ‘keeper? Vote now.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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