Gianluigi Buffon has eclipsed Dino Zoff's 903-minute run without conceding in Serie A, but which of the two UEFA.com All-time EURO 11 nominees is Italy's best goalkeeper ever?
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A clean sheet against Sassuolo on Friday left Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon four minutes shy of the Serie A record for the longest run without conceding – 929 minutes, set by AC Milan's Sebastiano Rossi in 1993/94. It also moved him past the career-best 903-minute run without conceding a league goal of Dino Zoff – his rival for a place in UEFA.com's All-time EURO 11 – achieved in 1972/73. Buffon's extended shut-out stands at 92 Serie A minutes since Antonio Cassano's goal in a 2-1 Bianconeri victory at Sampdoria on 10 January.
Buffon has long since earned Zoff's appreciation. "Gigi is an amazing goalkeeper," Zoff said. "But credit also goes to his team. They have a bit more than my Juve side, because they have won four consecutive titles and reached the UEFA Champions League final last season. I congratulate Buffon, I hope he continues as Juventus keeper for a long time."
In turn Buffon admires Zoff, Italy's most-capped player (with 154 appearances) having paid tribute to his Azzurri predecessor when he surpassed Zoff's then record of 112 caps in a friendly against Uruguay in 2011. "Zoff is a real legend," he said. "I'm very proud to reach this milestone."
The pair's statistics in terms of career achievements are almost identical. The only thing separating them is that Zoff won a EURO – in 1968 – something Buffon will hope to emulate this summer. However, they were very different goalkeepers. Zoff's unflashy style transmitted calm to his team-mates, while Buffon is exuberant, with a reputation for making seemingly impossible saves.
Now 74, Zoff went 1,143 minutes without conceding for his country from 1972–74 – still a record. Buffon's best international sequence was a 453-minute spell at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. However, the 38-year-old may yet break that record, having said he would retire after the 2018 World Cup, by which time he will be 40 – the same age at which Zoff captained Italy to 1982 global glory.
Who is best? That is a question many in Italy prefer to duck. "They are the greatest ever," former Azzurri forward Paolo Rossi said. "Different in character but similar in personality. Two absolute leaders, men guiding the whole team."
Longest unbeaten runs by goalkeepers in Europe's top divisions
1,390 minutes: Dany Verlinden (Club Brugge, BEL 1990)
1,311: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United, ENG 2008-09)
1,282: Roman Smishko (Levadia Tallinn, EST 2014)
1,275, Abel Resino (Atlético Madrid, ESP 1990-91)
1,271: Adnan Gušo (Željezničar, BIH 2011-12)
1,256: Fraser Forster (Celtic, SCO 2014)
1,192: Vítor Baía (Porto, POR 1991-92)
1,190: Dimitar Ivankov (Levski Sofia, BUL 1999)
1,176: Gaëtan Huard (Bordeaux, FRA 1992-93)
1,155: Bobby Clark (Aberdeen, SCO 1970-71)
1,154: Denis Romanenco (Zimbru, MDA 1998-99)
1,129: Miroslav König (Slovan Bratislava, SVK 1998-99)
1,110: Şenol Güneş (Trabzonspor, TUR 1978-79)
1,109: Marius Poškus (Inkaras Kaunas, LTU 1995-96)
1,106: Nizami Sadıqov (Turan, AZE 1993)
1,095: Chris Woods (Rangers, SCO 1986-87)
1,082: Heinz Stuy (Ajax, NED 1971)
1,079: Manuel Bento (Benfica, POR 1981)
1,072: Sergei Chernik (BATE, BLS 2014-15)
1,037: Bujar Gogunja (Labinoti Elbasan, ALB 1983-84)
1,025: Petr Čech (Chelsea, ENG 2004-05)
1,016: Sergei Veremko (BATE, BLS 2009-10)
1,005: Piotr Czaja (Katowice & Ruch Chorzów, POL 1970)
1,002: Nejc Vidmar (Domžale, SVN 2014-15)