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Gianluigi Buffon leaves Juventus: The defining moments of his career

Gigi Buffon had a better end to the week

As Gianluigi Buffon announces he is leaving Juventus, we look back on the defining moments of a career which spans more than two decades at the top.

The 40-year-old, who has made 875 club appearances for Parma and Juventus and won a record total of 176 caps for Italy, confirmed his departure from the Old Lady on Thursday.

He is one of only three players to have been included in five separate World Cup squads, and at club level he has won more Serie A titles (nine) than any other player.

From the very first trophies of his career with Parma to this season's Champions League heartbreak with Juventus, here are some of the moments which have defined his career...

Parma double

Buffon is the only player in Champions League history to have appeared in three finals without winning one, but his CV is not without European silverware. Back in the 1998/99 campaign, when he was just 21 years old, Buffon was instrumental in helping Parma to UEFA Cup glory as he kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over Marseille in the final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

Gianluigi Buffon helped Parma to UEFA Cup glory in 1999
Image: Gianluigi Buffon helped Parma to UEFA Cup glory in 1999

That success came just a few weeks after Parma had beaten Fiorentina to lift the Coppa Italia. The trophies were the first of Buffon's fledgling career. They allowed him to establish himself as the best young goalkeeper in Europe and paved the way for his world-record transfer to Juventus two years later.

World Cup glory

Buffon was a key figure in Italy's 2006 World Cup triumph in Germany, starting all seven games from the group stage to the final and setting a new record by only conceding two goals in the process.

Buffon was not required to save any penalties in Italy's shootout victory over France in the final, with David Trezeguet's effort against the crossbar proving decisive, but they would not have made it that far if it wasn't for his exceptional extra-time stop from Zinedine Zidane. Buffon won the best goalkeeper award and was named in the team of the tournament.

Gianluigi Buffon celebrates with the 2006 World Cup
Image: Gianluigi Buffon celebrates with the 2006 World Cup

Ballon d'Or runner-up

Having won the Serie A title with Juventus and the World Cup with Italy, Buffon was voted second in the 2006 Ballon d'Or voting behind team-mate Fabio Cannavaro.

Buffon remains the only goalkeeper to have come so close to winning the prize since the legendary Lev Yashin secured it way back in 1963, and many felt he was unfortunate not to win it outright. Nevertheless, finishing runner-up was a historic achievement for a goalkeeper which underlined the brilliance of his performances.

Loyalty amid Calciopoli scandal

The year 2006 ended on a sour note for Buffon as Juventus were relegated to Serie B for their part in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. But while illustrious team-mates such as Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira and Zlatan Ibrahimovic opted to leave, Buffon showed his loyalty to the Bianconeri by staying.

Juventus started the season with a nine-point deduction, but went on to finish top and secure an immediate return to the top flight. Buffon, for his part, started all but five of the club's 42 games in Serie B. At the end of it, he was rewarded with a new long-term contract.

Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus celebrate after sealing the title
Image: Gianluigi Buffon has played for Juventus since 2001

2013 Scudetto as captain

The 2012/13 Scudetto was Buffon's fourth (excluding the two taken away from Juventus after the Calciopoli scandal), but it was his first as club captain, which made it even sweeter.

Buffon had been handed the captain's armband following Alessandro Del Piero's departure to Sydney FC a year earlier, underlining his importance to the side and allowing him to lead their title charge on the pitch.

Champions League heartache

Buffon has always been regarded as one of the most loved players in football but he risked that reputation with his furious outburst at referee Michael Oliver in Juventus' dramatic Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid last month.

 during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Real Madrid and Juventus at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 11, 2018 in Madrid, Spain.
Image: Gianluigi Buffon was sent off for his protests to Michael Oliver

Buffon was furious with Oliver's decision to award Madrid their late penalty, earning himself a red card and going on to say that the English official had a "bin for a heart" for wrecking his last hope of lifting the Champions League. Buffon, who was charged over the incident, said on Thursday he "went beyond the limits" and offered an apology to Oliver.

The whole episode captured his frustration about missing out on the prize. It remains to be seen whether it will affect his legacy.

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