Shirt Tales: Gianluigi Buffon

Telling the story of Gianluigi Buffon’s carrer through the medium of polyester…

Parma 1995/96

On the 19th November 1995, a 17-year-old Gianluigi Buffon was thrust into Parma’s starting line-up for a crucial clash with the mighty AC Milan. Following an injury to first choice custodian Luca Bucci, coach Nevio Scala took a chance on Buffon in favour of the more experienced deputy Alessandro Nista. Any doubts were quickly extinguished as Buffon produced a fine display, deflecting the attempts of Baggio, Weah and company to keep a clean sheet. The rest, as they say, is history. Buffon made his debut in this quintessentially 90’s jersey; rich in primary colours with extravagant sublimated designs. Naturally, Gigi wore it with the sleeves rolled to the elbow.

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Parma 1998/99

In his early years, Buffon established himself as a sartorial reference point in the goalkeeping world. He was part of a growing band of custodians, led by Fabian Barthez, to eschew long sleeves. However, the Italian took things one step further with his preference for donning an alternate outfield shirt instead of a dedicated goalkeeper’s jersey. This is a more common sight today, but was considered pioneering in the late 1990s. In the 1998/99 season, Buffon, had a short sleeve red and blue Lotto template at his disposal, but frequently elected to use Parma’s white and yellow outfield jersey on matchdays.

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Juventus 2002/03

In 2001, Juventus broke the world transfer record to bring Buffon to Turin. The figure of ยฃ32.6 million stood as a record for a goalkeeper for some 16 years, a remarkable fact in an era of rapidly inflating transfer fees. Buffon set about justifying the enormous fee by assisting the Bianconeri to two scudetti in his first two seasons at the club. The Italian manufacturer Lotto produced some bold goalkeeper’s jerseys in those early years, the most memorable of which featured a sublimated six pack and pectorals, produced in both silver and pink versions.

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Italy 2006

Buffon made his debut for Italy aged 19 in a crucial World Cup qualification play-off in snowbound Moscow, and would go on to make 176 appearances for the Nazionale. In 2006, he went to the World Cup as the Azzurri’s first choice ‘keeper, playing every minute on route to the final. Retrospectively, it seems like fate that a golden goalkeeper’s kit had been chosen for the tournament. Although Buffon also wore a maroon variant of the Puma kit during the competition, it was in this striking outfit that Buffon helped to defeat France in the Berlin finale.

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Juventus 2005/06

2006 was a bittersweet year for Buffon as the newly-crowned world champion found himself relegated to Italy’s second tier as a consequence of the Calciopoli scandal. Buffon’s colleagues were split down the middle in their response; Ibrahimovic, Thuram, Cannavaro and Zambrotta secured big money transfers away from Turin, whilst Buffon, Trezeguet, Nedved, Del Piero and Camoranesi stayed on to help restore Juventus to their former glory. The sight of the World Cup winning goalkeeper plying his trade in provincial cities such as Rimini, Mantova and Arezzo was truly something to behold. This two-tone grey Nike shirt captured the melancholy of the situation perfectly.

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In clinching the scudetto in 2012, Juventus and Buffon had come full circle together. This was the beginning of a golden era for both player and club which would see them embark upon a unprecedented sequence of Serie A and Coppa Italia victories. Buffon demonstrated incredible longevity, holding off the challenge of younger pretenders to the number 1 jersey. As Juventus switched over to Adidas, the scudetto and coccarda symbols became familiar features on Buffon’s shirt.

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Paris St Germain 2018/19

As Buffon reached his 40th birthday, the elusive Champions League victory remained a critical gap in his palmares. Having finished as a runner-up with Juventus in the competition on three separate occasions, Buffon made the switch to PSG in a final bid for glory. However, fate dictated that Buffon would never get his hands on the coveted prize; eliminated at the quarter-final stage with his new club, he returned to Turin with the consolation of a Ligue 1 medal. That season Buffon donned a range of Nike outfits, including the Michael Jordan-inspired Champions League shirt in both orange and green variants.

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Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in Italian shirts, check out our Serie B and Serie C kit reviews.

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