UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Stars of UEFA EURO 2016: Gianluigi Buffon

Nearly 19 years after his senior Italy debut, and with more than 150 caps to his name, Gianluigi Buffon remains as talismanic as ever heading into UEFA EURO 2016.

Gianluigi Buffon has been a senior international for nearly 19 years
Gianluigi Buffon has been a senior international for nearly 19 years ©Getty Images

At a glance
Nearly 19 years have passed since Gianluigi Buffon's Italy debut, when he came on as a substitute in a play-off for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He made one astonishing save against Russia as the Azzurri drew 1-1 in snowy Moscow and has never looked back.

Now the most-capped player in the history of the Italian national team, the 2006 World Cup winner is still performing superbly. If proof were needed, he recently set a record by going 973 minutes without conceding for Juventus in Serie A.

EURO pedigree
Italy's first choice during UEFA EURO 2000 qualifying, Buffon missed the finals after fracturing his hand in a pre-tournament friendly against Norway. Four years later, Buffon's Italy did not lose a game in the group stage yet still failed to advance to the knockout phase.

They did pass the first hurdle in 2008, however, Buffon keeping out a crucial penalty in a 1-1 draw with Romania and claiming a clean sheet in the deciding victory over France. He also shut out eventual champions Spain for 120 minutes, before Italy lost that quarter-final on penalties. The Spanish again denied the Azzurri four years later, this time in the final. Buffon had enjoyed a splendid tournament, though, notably stopping Ashley Cole's spot kick in the last-eight shoot-out against England.

What he offers

Italy’s EURO star: Gianluigi Buffon

Importance for Italy
It is enough to watch the way he sings the national anthem to understand the team's importance to Buffon. A real leader, he is one of the most respected players in the game and his enthusiasm is contagious. He continues to direct a defensive line featuring several Juve team-mates and remains as agile as ever.

International career
Debut: Russia 1-1 Italy (29 October 1997, World Cup qualifying)
Appearances: 156
Goals: 0

EURO final tournament (Italy record)
Appearances: 13
Goals: 0 (Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano, 3)
Record: W4 D7* L2

*Includes defeat by Spain on penalties in UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals and shoot-out victory against England at same stage of UEFA EURO 2012

Watch Italy's best five goals from UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying