Przejdź do treści
0 pozycja

Compelling stories of goalkeeper stars on their professional journey in football

14 May 2024

The Path to Professional Goalkeeping: Stories of Successful Goalkeepers

Discover the lives of three professional goalkeepers and one female goalkeeper who reached the pinnacle of their careers through their exceptional performances. However, their journeys to the top were accompanied by challenges and difficult situations that they had to overcome, often requiring them to find renewed determination.

In this article, we will explore what Buffon, Casillas, Solo, and De Gea had to endure in their goalkeeping careers and how their football lives were shaped.

Gianluigi Buffon: The Italian Record Holder from Carrara

Former Italian footballer Gianluigi Buffon, also known as Gigi Buffon, was born on January 28, 1978, in Carrara, Tuscany. He is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, having played over 1,100 matches in the professional era.

He began his career at the age of seventeen in Serie A with Parma, and in 1999, he helped the club win the Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup, and Supercoppa Italiana.

In 2001, he transferred to Juventus for a record €52.9 million, where he stayed for seventeen years, winning a record nine Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias, and five Supercoppa Italianas.

Over the years, Buffon received numerous awards and recognitions in Serie A.

In 2015 and 2017, Buffon was named to the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season after reaching the UEFA Champions League finals, and in 2017, he received the inaugural Best FIFA Goalkeeper award.

In 2018, at the age of forty, he signed with the French club Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the Trophée des Champions and the Ligue 1 title in his single season before returning to Juventus. After winning a record tenth top-tier title with the club and a sixth Coppa Italia, he returned to his youth club Parma in 2021, where he retired in 2023 at the age of 45.

Record Holder


From a young age, Buffon exhibited his playing talent, consistently delivering strong performances throughout his career. Coaches and players praised his concentration under pressure, work ethic, and for many other players, he was cited as a role model and the archetype of the modern goalkeeper.

Buffon was known for his athletic talent, agility, strength, and ability to command the field, particularly for his acrobatic saves and quick reflexes that allowed him to stop shots. He also had the ability to make crucial saves.

Between 2008 and 2010, Buffon suffered several injuries, which, combined with the effects of aging, forced him to adapt his playing style. He adjusted his training diet and regimen, and despite the loss of physical strength, explosiveness, and speed, he continued to excel through tactical intelligence, decision-making, game-reading ability, and organizing the defense.

As he aged, he preferred a deeper position closer to the goal, increasing the distance from opponents to have more time to assess situations and intercept the ball.

Promotion of Neo-Nazi Slogans and Other Controversies

Although Buffon is considered one of the best footballers in the world and in history, his name is also associated with several controversies.

While at Parma, Buffon decided to wear the number 88 jersey instead of his original number 1, which caused disagreements in Italy. The 8th letter of the alphabet is "H," and thus the number 88 was historically used by Nazis to mean "Heil Hitler." Italy, as part of its declaration to stop anti-Semitism, banned footballers from wearing this number. However, Buffon stated that he was unaware of the neo-Nazi significance and that 88 represented a symbol of character and qualities to him. He resolved the issue by changing his number to 77.

He demonstrated further ignorance of neo-Nazi connotations when he wore a shirt under his jersey with the slogan "Boia chi molla" (loosely translated as "Who gives up is a scoundrel"), which was associated with the fascist regime. Buffon claimed he first encountered the slogan on a school desk and was unaware of its connection to the right-wing movement. His intention was to motivate his teammates due to previous disappointments.

In 2000, Buffon faced potential punishment for forging a high school diploma, which he needed to enroll in the law program at the University of Parma. He ultimately paid a fine of 6,350,000 lire and described his actions as a life mistake.


 Iker Casillas: Spanish Icon from Madrid

Iker Casillas Fernández, a former Spanish professional goalkeeper, was born on May 20, 1981, in Móstoles, Madrid province.

Casillas began his club career at the youth club of Real Madrid. Thanks to his qualities, he moved to the main team in 1999, where he became the youngest goalkeeper to play in a UEFA Champions League final. At the age of 19, he was also one of the youngest title winners.

In his first three seasons at Madrid, Casillas established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world with two Champions League victories and three La Liga titles.

Over the following years in Madrid, Casillas managed to win all major club titles, including five La Liga titles, four Supercopa de España, two Copa del Rey, three UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, and one FIFA Club World Cup.

After 25 years, the goalkeeper moved to FC Porto in 2015, where he continued to win Primeira Liga and Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira titles.

He ended his professional career in 2020 due to a heart attack suffered in 2019.

Regarding his international career, Casillas holds second place with his 167 international appearances for the Spanish national team.

In 2008, he was named captain of the team and led them to victory in the UEFA European Championship. In 2010, he helped Spain win their first FIFA World Cup. In 2012, Spain became the first nation to defend the UEFA European Championship title. Casillas also set a record for the most minutes without conceding a goal during the tournament.

Playing Style: Consistent Player San Iker

Iker Casillas, nicknamed "San Iker," is considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. He was known as a versatile athletic goalkeeper, characterized by exceptional agility, consistency, and the ability to stop shots.

Casillas boasted excellent footwork, concentration, quick rushes off his line in one-on-one situations, and notably excelled at saving penalties.

Despite his reserved nature, he had a strong personality, calmness, reliability, excellent organization of the defense, leadership on the field, and outstanding reading of the game.

His teammates described Casillas as a strong goalkeeper with excellent leaps, flexible reactions, and literally claimed that he moved like a cat.

Throughout his career, Casillas demonstrated the ability to distribute the ball with both his hands and feet, launching long throws and kicks with his left foot.

Heart Attack During Training On May 1, 2019, during a morning training session with Porto, Iker Casillas suffered a myocardial infarction. He was immediately taken to the hospital, where his condition stabilized. That same evening, the club announced on their website that the player was okay and that his heart problem had been resolved. Casillas himself confirmed these words on social media.

Although the goalkeeper mentioned returning to the field and even attempted to train during his recovery, he never returned to play. However, he did not give up on football, as he returned to Real Madrid as an advisor to president Florentino Pérez.

He ended his football career in 2020 when he decided to run for president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Hope Solo: American Star from Washington

Hope Amelia Stevens, former American soccer goalkeeper, was born on July 30, 1981, in Richland, Washington.

She began playing soccer at a young age as a forward. She initially played for the Washington-based Three-Rivers Soccer Club and then played for the Richland High School varsity team, where she scored a total of 109 goals. Solo was subsequently offered scholarships by several universities but chose to attend the University of Washington, where she studied and played from 1999 to 2002. She transitioned permanently to the goalkeeper position while playing for the Huskies.

Solo ended her collegiate career as the all-time leader for Washington in clean sheets (18), saves (325), and goals against average (1.02). She became the first goalkeeper to receive the Pac-10 Player of the Year award.

In 2003, she joined the American women's professional team Philadelphia Charge (WPS). She later played in Sweden for Göteborg and then for the women's team of Olympique Lyonnais. In 2008, she moved to the American team Saint Louis Athletica. She subsequently played for several American teams before signing with the Seattle Sounders Women in 2012. That same year, national teammates Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Sydney Leroux joined the team.

Hope was hailed as the best player in contemporary women's soccer.

Playing Style: Aggressive and Confident Hope

Solo is considered one of the best goalkeepers of all time. Her playing style has been characterized as aggressive, confident, and self-assured. Throughout her career, she has earned numerous accolades, including two gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup title.

She describes her transition to goalkeeping and her playing style in her book "Solo: A Memoir of Hope." She argues that transitioning to goalkeeper required a significant mental shift, as she had to adapt to the new role of being responsible for saving games. Previously, she waited for the ball at the goal and relied on her athletic ability to make saves.

In the goalkeeper position, she learned to read the game, anticipate her opponents' runs towards the goal, position defenders, and see angles. She believes that the intellectual aspect made catching much more interesting. It wasn't just about waiting ninety minutes for her defense to make a mistake but about tactics and strategy.

Solo was resilient, tough, and ready to fight.


Accused of Assaulting Family

In 2014, Hope Solo was arrested and accused of assaulting her sister and nephew. She denied the charges, and she was released the next day. The whole process was then delayed until January 6, 2015, when a decision was expected to be made to withdraw the charges.

On January 13, 2015, the judge dismissed the charges due to insufficient cooperation from the alleged victims. However, the prosecution appealed, and the appellate court sided with them, leading to the reinstatement of the case. In June 2016, the appellate court rejected Solo's petition for case review.

On May 24, 2018, the city of Kirkland dropped all domestic violence charges against the player.

On March 31, 2022, Solo was arrested for driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and child abuse, as her two-year-old twins were in the car at the time of the incident. Solo admitted to driving under the influence, leading to the withdrawal of the charges of resisting arrest and child abuse.

David de Gea: Spanish Goalkeeper from Madrid

Spanish professional goalkeeper David de Gea Quintana was born on November 7, 1990, in Madrid.

He began his football career with Atlético Madrid and made his senior team debut at the age of 18 in 2009. In 2010, he helped the team win the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup.

Due to his abilities, he caught the attention of Manchester United, and in 2011, he transferred to the club for a record £18.9 million.

With Manchester United, he played over 500 matches. He won the Premier League, FA Cup, two League Cups, three Community Shields, and the UEFA Europa League.

He was awarded the United Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year title four times.

By the age of 21, he was the captain of the Spanish national football team, which won the UEFA European Championship in 2011 and 2013.

During his time at Manchester United, De Gea surpassed his predecessor Peter Schmeichel's record in the English league with 113 clean sheets.

Playing Style: From Futsal Forward to Football Goalposts

David de Gea played futsal as a field player until he was 14 years old, incorporating various futsal techniques into his playing style. Particularly, he developed his abilities in athletic foot saves. It was his proficiency in blocking shots with his feet that led him to the goalkeeper position.

Gea is agile, with outstanding reflexes and the ability to stop shots between the posts. His skill in saving shots with his feet allows him to execute acrobatic and impressive saves.

The goalkeeper is also known for his consistency, calmness under pressure, and leadership.

Since his youth, when he struggled with high balls due to his slim build, he significantly improved this aspect of his game. He also excels in ball control, spatial awareness, decision-making, and catching crosses.

De Gea possesses excellent ball control, vision, and the ability to play with both feet, allowing him to initiate attacking plays from the back.

When the stars fail...

Although David de Gea is considered an outstanding goalkeeper, a few of his saves may not have brought him much pride.

In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he disappointed by conceding six goals out of seven. According to the statistics at the time, it was the worst performance by a goalkeeper since 1996.

In the match against Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo beat De Gea three times, with one goal slipping past him between his gloves. He also conceded another goal from a penalty and a direct free kick.

During the game against Morocco, he let in two goals out of three shots and recorded only one save in the tournament against Chalid Boutaïb's breakaway.

In the round of 16, he couldn't prevent a goal from Artem Dzyuba's penalty kick. Subsequently, during the penalty shootout, De Gea failed to save any of the four Russian attempts, leading to Spain's unexpected elimination.



Poprzedni post
Kolejny post

Dziękujemy za subskrypcję

Ten adres e-mail został zarejestrowany!

Kup wygląd

Wybierz opcje

Edytuj opcję
Powiadomienie o ponownym pojawieniu się w magazynie
zostanie dodany do Twojego koszyka.
Ogólne Warunki
this is just a warning
Zaloguj się