Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon, the 39-year-old Italian shot-blocking legend, has many reasons why to be known as the best goalkeeper of his generation. When it comes to being consistently elite at such a high level, this name is the first one that comes to mind.
It all started when he was 17 years old. He made his first senior appearance for the Italian club Parma, where he was able to record a clean sheet, in his first senior appearance ever, against the Italian giants, Milan. This is where we really got to see what Buffon would become.
Since his first ever career start, he has won UEFA Best Player in Europe (1X), Italian League Champions (8x), Italian Cup Winner (3X), Italian Super Cup (6X), Under 21 European Championship (1x), The UEFA Cup (1X) The 2017 Footballer of the Year, and a World Cup with Italy where he also won best goalkeeper of the tournament. The one major trophy he, unfortunately, doesn’t have is the UEFA Champions League trophy. He has 175 caps with Italy, the fourth-most international appearances ever, along with being the most capped European player ever which has reached over 1000.
Gigi Buffon has proven himself since that first start against Milan. That amount of clean sheets that he’s had like that memorable 2013-14 season with Juve where he had 18 in 33 starts, along with 89 saves and only conceding 19. Buffon stats to prove that he is better than Casillas. Buffon is still playing in one of the toughest leagues at the age of 39, while Casillas has been at Porto since 2015.
I will always stand by Gigi for being the best of his generation.
Don’t get me wrong, Buffon is a king, but just not as good as a Saint, San Iker Casillas. He started at Real Madrid, the greatest club in history, and worked his way through the ranks. On 27 November 1997, at age 16 (16!) he was first called up to the first team to face Rosenborg in the UEFA Champions League. In 2000, he became the youngest ever goalkeeper to play in a Champions League final when Real Madrid defeated Valencia 3–0, just four days after his 19th birthday.
In his 16-year career with Madrid, he won everything possible in Spain. In 510 (second-most at Real Madrid) appearance, he won: 5 Domestic League Championship, 2 Spanish Cups, 4 Spanish Super Cups. With UEFA, he has the most appearances (170) and most clean sheets (57). He’s won 3 Champions Leagues and 2 UEFA Super Cups. He’s also won a FIFA Club World Cup, and Intercontinental Cup with Madrid. But International, in 167 (tied-6th) appearances he’s won a FIFA World Cup and 2 European Championships.
Casillas is just that little bit better, he won the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper Award for a record five consecutive years in a row, he has the most champions league clean sheets, and as a Madridista, I love him. He is just better than Buffon, and the best of his generation.