There have often been many arguments about who is the best goalkeeper in the world at present. Petr Cech has had his time, and it was difficult to argue against Iker Casillas being the standout goalkeeper in recent years. However, his recent lack of action at Real Madrid means that this coveted debate should be headed by the veteran Italian Gianluigi Buffon.
What is there else to say about Buffon? He cost Juventus £32m when he moved from Parma over a decade ago, and it was certainly well worth the money. Time after time, he will come up with another remarkable save or a performance that will have us grasping for the dictionary of superatives again.
He has been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record nine times, and is the only stopper to win the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award back in 2003. Apart from the Champions League at club level and the European Championships on the international stage, Buffon has pretty much won it all in his glittering career.
He is a leader from the back and of the team, and his absence through injury in the 2010 World Cup was heavily noted. Without him, Italy weren’t the same as they made a sorry and limp exit in the group stage in the wooden spoon position in Group F, below the amateurs from New Zealand.
Buffon has been a regular in the Italian set-up since 1998 and the number one since Francesco Toldo’s heroics at Euro 2000, again in an injury absence for the 34-year-old. He is a superb shot-stopper, vocally brilliant in keeping a back four settled, and has a huge presence on any team he features in.
If there is a better goalkeeper in the world or consistently better in the last 10 years, then feel free to state their case. The good thing about Buffon is his durability, and he has the ability to play on for at least another five years if he has the desire to do so. This is a true Italian great.
Daniele De Rossi
Daniele De Rossi isn’t too popular some people. He has a tendency to go down as if he has been poleaxed, and some of his antics would almost fit perfectly into an Italian synchronized diving routine at the Olympic Games.
Away from the theatrics however, De Rossi is a gifted and assured presence in the Italian midfield. Now 28 years of age, he signed a five-year contract to stay with Roma last February, and could well turn out to be a one-club man, despite efforts from the major financial superpowers like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain to change that statistic.
Honours at club level have been tough for De Rossi to achieve in recent years due to Roma’s steady decline into a mid-table Italian side. However, he has won the Coppa Italia twice and was voted Italian Footballer of the Year in 2009.
He is an excellent tackler and can break up attacks well, has the versatile approach to play as a defensive midfielder or in a more advanced role, and can do a very able job in central defence in an injury crisis.
De Rossi also shows physicality, which is needed for the area he plays in, can get great leverage in the air and also pops up with the odd goal or two every season for club and country.
He is only getting better, and was one of the individual stars of Euro 2012. De Rossi has shown a naivety at a younger age, and some will remember his disgusting elbow into the face of Brian McBride during a World Cup match between the Azzuri and USA in 2006.
However, he has cut down on his attitude issues from youth level, and is now a strong, commanding presence in the middle of the park. Italy would be a much poorer side without him for sure.
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