Gianluigi Buffon made saves that few could make seem routine. The saves kept soon-to-be wins in place, trophies secured, highlight videos absolutely packed with some of the highest of quality goalkeeping you will ever see. He burst onto the scene as a teenager, moved to Juventus for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper and went on to have the best career somebody at his position has ever had.
On Wednesday, the GOAT has called it a day.
Buffon, through a simple message and short video on his social media channels, announced that he has retired from the game in which he has won and achieved almost everything that a player can. He retires at the age of 45 — and that is no typo. At a time in which so many of his former teammates had already transitioned into the next phase of their respective lives, Buffon was still out there, still getting it done in goal, still providing those “wow” moments where he flies through the air and makes it seem like a routine save.
(By the way, that transfer fee that Juve paid to Parma in 2001 ... still one of the highest paid for a goalkeeper.)
But as he has maintained and held true for years, it would be his body that would dictate how long he would play. So after a season in which he missed nearly half of Parma’s season and couldn’t fully contribute to a bid for promotion as much as he had hoped, that was the sign that it was time to hang up the Puma gloves and, after nearly three full decades since making his debut with that same Parma, retire in his mid-40s.
That's all folks!— Gianluigi Buffon (@gianluigibuffon) August 2, 2023
You gave me everything.
I gave you everything.
We did it together. pic.twitter.com/bGvIDsoFsG
To try and rattle off what Buffon has accomplished in his career would take a long time. Same goes for the realization that over the nearly three decades in which he played in goal after making his debut with Parma at the age of 17 in 1995 (!!!), he has accomplished so damn much.
But let’s try it.
He will go down as the greatest goalkeeper to ever do it. He appeared in the second-most amount of games at Juventus behind his good friend and former captain Alessandro Del Piero. He became the first-ever goalkeeper to record 500 shutouts in their career. He won just about every trophy — sans the one with big ears — that an Italian player who played all but one season of his career in the country of his birth.
The thrills he provided us are endless. The chills in which he provided are also endless. The full emotion, joy and intensity in which he played with will be just as memorable as the saves themselves.
Buffon, as a player, was one of one. Because of that, it made sense that his number for so many years was just that — No. 1.
Now, like every other member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning team, Buffon’s playing career is going to be addressed in the past tense. He certainly won’t be a stranger to the game that he has given so much of his life to. He will certainly strap up those Puma gloves in the future for exhibitions and charity matches. But now one of the greatest careers that we will ever see is over — and that is something to celebrate no matter how dusty it gets in here.