GIGI: BECOMING ONE OF THE GREATEST EVER GOALKEEPERS

GIGI: BECOMING ONE OF THE GREATEST EVER GOALKEEPERS

You know Gigi Buffon. Superman, legend of Serie A and one of the game’s greatest ever goalkeepers. But Gigi’s life might have turned out very differently had he not tuned in to watch the opening match of Italia '90.

On the 8th June 1990, reigning World Champions Argentina kicked off the tournament against Cameroon at the San Siro. It was a match they were expected to win comfortably.

 

 

@cultkits Gigi Buffon is one of football’s greatest ever goalkeepers. But his incredible career may never have happened had he not watched Cameroon beat Argentina at Italia ‘90. #juve #juventus #parma #psg #cultkits #football #seriea ♬ original sound - Cult Kits

 

 

Instead, one of the great World Cup upsets unfolded, as the Indomitable Lions kept Diego Maradona at bay in a famous 1-0 win.

 

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While most of those watching were captivated by strikers Roger Milla and Francois Omam-Biyik, one 12-year-old boy from Tuscany was enthralled by Cameroon's goalkeeper, Thomas N'Kono.

Shop ALL Cameroon football shirts here.

 

"He made his Serie A debut for the club in 1995 at the age of 17, keeping a clean sheet against AC Milan."

 

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For those of you who are too young to remember the match, N’Kono had the game of his life as he repeatedly repelled wave after wave of Argentinian attacks.

At the time, Buffon was playing as a midfielder with dreams of scoring rather than stopping goals.

 

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But that ambition was changed forever thanks to N’Kono and his heroics between the sticks.

A year after that World Cup, Buffon joined the academy at Parma, where he honed his newly discovered goalkeeping skills.

Shop ALL Parma football shirts here.

He made his Serie A debut for the club in 1995 at the age of 17, keeping a clean sheet against AC Milan, who had that year's Ballon d'Or winner and three-time African Footballer of the Year George Weah in attack.

 

"Nkono had such an influence on Buffon's career that, in 2007, the man who had won the World Cup a year earlier named his first son after the Cameroon legend."


Buffon soon established himself as the first-choice keeper at Parma, moving on to Juventus in 2001 for 52 million euros – a world record fee for a goalie.

Shop ALL Juventus shirts here.

 


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During his first spell at Parma, Buffon crossed paths with Cameroon striker Patrick Mboma, who played for Cagliari for two seasons from 1998.

Buffon could not help but discuss his admiration for Nkono, and Mboma put the two goalkeepers in touch with each other, leading to Buffon making the trip to Cameroon for Nkono's testimonial game in 1999.

 

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Nkono had such an influence on Buffon's career that, in 2007, the man who had won the World Cup a year earlier named his first son after the Cameroon legend. If you’re wondering, Louis Thomas Buffon is also a keeper and is currently on Juve’s books.

Gianluigi Buffon's retirement earlier this year at the age of 45 brings an end to a playing career that included a record 176 Italy caps and an unsurpassed Serie A appearance total of 657 league games.

Shop ALL Italy shirts here.

But it could all have been so different had it not been for Thomas N’Kono’s brilliance at Italia ’90.

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