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“You became THE goalkeeper” – tributes to Buffon as he retires

(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon announced his retirement on Wednesday at the age of 45, sparking tributes from the world of football.

“That’s all folks! You gave me everything. I gave you everything. We did it together,” Buffon posted on social media.

Buffon won 10 Serie A titles with Juventus but ended his stellar career back where it all started at Parma.

“We would like to thank you once again: It is one of those moments we will remember in the history of football,” Juventus said in a statement.

“You were not only the best, you did more than that, you became THE goalkeeper.”

It was at Parma that he won his only European club trophy — the 1999 UEFA Cup (now the Europa League) — but he retires without a Champions League winners medal having lost three times in the final with Juventus.

Parma paid a handsome tribute to him saying he is “a man, a champion, a captain for the club and the city.”

“Over the course of his illustrious career, Gigi was unequaled, in his abilities, an implacable determination, and an unshakable passion both on the pitch and off it,” said Parma owner Kyle Krause.

He also won a Ligue 1 crown with Paris Saint Germain in the 2018/19 season before he returned to Juventus for two more years.

His former PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe took to social media to pay tribute to Buffon, describing him as “a golden man”.

“It was a huge honor for me to have the chance to rub shoulders with you and cross paths with you in your legendary career,” he wrote.

“You are a golden man who gave me precious advice that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.

“Happy travels and above all THANK YOU.”

Buffon holds the record for most Serie A matches contested (657) and is the most capped player in Italy’s history with 176 (1997-2018).

That encompassed five World Cups which included the high of winning it in 2006, when Italy beat France in a penalty shootout, to bowing out in the first round four years later.

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