GIANLUIGI BUFFON

Born: Jan. 28, 1978, in Carrara, Italy

Position: Goalkeeper

Nickname: Super Gigi

Clubs played for: While still only 17, Buffon made his Serie A (Italian first division) debut for Parma in a 0-0 draw against AC Milan on Nov. 19, 1995. In his fourth season with the club, he won the UEFA Cup before being sold to Juventus in 2001 for $55.4 million Cdn - still a world-record transfer fee for a goalkeeper.

International career: Buffon was a member of the Italian side that won the 1996 Under-21 UEFA Championship. He earned his first cap for the senior team when he was 19 in a World Cup playoff qualifier against Russia in 1997. Ever since then, he's been Italy's No. 1 goalkeeper, and solidified his status as one of the best shot-stoppers in the game with a brilliant string of performances to help the Azzurri win the 2006 World Cup - Buffon was given the Lev Yashin Award as the tournament's best goalkeeper.

Why is he so special? Simply put, Buffon is one of the best goalkeepers - if not the best - in the world today. The Juventus star makes highlight-reel saves, efficiently organizes his defenders and is rarely caught out of position.

His most famous moment: In the 2006 World Cup final, Buffon tipped a dangerous Zinedine Zidane header over the crossbar in extra time, a game-saving move that allowed Italy to go on and win the game in a penalty shootout.

He said it: "Nobody thought we'd win the World Cup. We didn't set targets; we just thought about going through the first round and see what would happen."

What they're saying about him: "Gianluigi Buffon is the best goalkeeper of all time." - Massimo Mauro, Italian soccer analyst

Here's an interesting fact: Buffon lives with Czech model Alena Seredova. They have two children together.