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Buffon first to 50 UEFA EURO appearances

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon became the first player to appear in 50 UEFA European Championship games, including qualifying, by starting their match in Croatia.

Gianluigi Buffon's international career ©Getty Images

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has become the first player to appear in 50 UEFA European Championship games by starting their Group H qualifier in Croatia on Friday, saving a penalty in a 1-1 draw.

Buffon made his debut in this competition on 10 October 1998, typically keeping a clean sheet as Italy beat Switzerland 2-0. Denied a spot at UEFA EURO 2000 when he broke his hand, Buffon was nonetheless established as Italy's No1 and played at the final tournaments of 2004, 2008 and 2012, where the Azzurri were runners-up.

Against Malta in October, Buffon overhauled the competition record he had briefly shared with Sargis Hovsepyan and Lilian Thuram by making his 48th outing. Two more matches against Croatia have taken the 37-year-old Juventus captain to 50.

Buffon at the 2004 finals
Buffon at the 2004 finals©Getty Images

Had Buffon not been ruled out 15 years ago he would probably also hold the final tournament appearances record. As it is, his total of 13 is three behind Lilian Thuram and Edwin van der Sar and one adrift of, among others, Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo – who hope to have their sights on the record in France next summer.

Casillas could also become the first man to take part in five final tournaments (though he did not make it off the bench in 2000) as well as being among a host of Spain players able to achieve an unprecedented third title.

Earlier in 2016 qualifying, Ronaldo became the all-time leading goalscorer in UEFA European Championship history, getting his 23rd to move ahead of Jon Dahl Tomasson and Hakan Şükür, with Robbie Keane on 21.

Record-chasing Iker Casillas
Record-chasing Iker Casillas©Getty Images

Most appearances (overall)
Gianluigi Buffon* (Italy) 50
Sargis Hovsepyan (Armenia) 47
Lilian Thuram (France) 47
Mario Frick* (Liechtenstein) 46
Iker Casillas* (Spain) 45
Petr Čech* (Czech Republic) 44
Vitālijs Astafjevs (Latvia) 43
Robbie Keane* (Republic of Ireland) 43
Sergei Ignashevich* (Russia) 42
Kim Källström* (Sweden) 40
Darijo Srna* (Croatia) 40

*Appeared in 2016 qualifying

No one has played more UEFA EURO finals minutes than Edwin van der Sar
No one has played more UEFA EURO finals minutes than Edwin van der Sar©Getty Images

Most appearances (final tournament only)
Lilian Thuram (France) 16
Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands) 16
Iker Casillas (Spain) 14
Philipp Lahm (Germany) 14
Luís Figo (Portugal) 14
Nuno Gomes (Portugal) 14
Karel Poborský (Czech Republic) 14
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) 14
Zinédine Zidane (France) 14

Statistics correct as of 12 June 2015