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Russia plan squad purge for World Cup

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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

#WorldCupRank: No. 39 Gianluigi Buffon

« Previous: No. 40, Sergio Busquets | Next: No. 38: Mario Goetze »

No. 39 Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus/Italy

Why he's ranked: The tagline "legend" is bestowed with a little too much gusto in modern sport, but Buffon certainly fits the bill when such accolades are handed out. He may be 36, but this rugged, commanding 2006 World Cup winner has enough medals in his collection to suggest he can still claim to be the world's finest keeper.

Even at this age, Gianluigi Buffon is one of the best goalkeepers.

Key stat: All-time leader in caps for Italian national team (139 as of March 5, 2014).

What the experts say: "Underneath the goalkeeper jersey, you could be forgiven for thinking there is a Superman shirt. His former captain Fabio Cannavaro believed the No. 1 to be tattooed on his skin. Arguably the greatest of all-time, a sense of the man is given by another World Cup winner and former teammate, Lilian Thuram. 'Wherever Buffon decides to go, I will follow him because he gives me so much security to my back.'" -- James Horncastle

"One of the best goalkeepers in history, he is faithful to Italy's long tradition of producing quality in that position. He is the captain and the reference point for this Azzurri squad." -- Leonardo Bertozzi, ESPN Brazil

Other articles:
- James Horncastle: Best World Cup goalies of all time
- ESPN FC Blogs: Italy

« Previous: No. 40, Sergio Busquets | Next: No. 38: Mario Goetze »

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