'Superman' Buffon returns to relegated Parma after two decades

AFP , Thursday 17 Jun 2021

Gianluigi Buffon
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (AFP)

Goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon has returned to Parma two decades after leaving the Italian club who were relegated last season.

"He is back where he belongs, he is back home. Superman returns," the club said on Twitter along with a short video in which 43-year-old Buffon said: "OK Kyle (Krause) I'm in. I'm back."

Club owner Kyle Krause replied: "Great news, welcome home."

Buffon holds the record for Serie A matches played with 657, since his first with Parma in 1995 as a 17-year-old.

Since then, Buffon has played just one season in Serie B when Juventus were demoted in 2006-2007 for the 'Calciopoli' match-fixing scandal.

The former World Cup winner announced last month he was leaving Juventus, the club he had played for since moving from Parma in 2001, apart from one season with Paris Saint-Germain in 2018-2019.

Buffon played his final game for Juventus in the Coppa Italia final where he lifted the trophy for the sixth time.

It was his 685th game for Juventus and his 27th career trophy, including the 2006 World Cup.

Former Italy captain Buffon is an iconic figure in Italian football, one of the stars of the Azzurri's 2006 World Cup triumph who racked up a record 176 caps for his country.

Buffon won 10 Serie A titles with Juventus, as well as five Italian Cups with the club and second-tier Serie B in 2007.

He also won Ligue 1 with PSG in 2018-2019 before returning to the Turin giants. He won he UEFA Cup back in 1999 with Parma.

However, he has never won the Champions League after losing finals with Juve in 2003, 2015 and 2017.

Buffon has reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Emilia-Romagna side with a guarantee of being captain and number one goalkeeper and having a role in the club when his career ends.

Parma were taken over by the US Krause Group last September.

The club were among Italy's top clubs in the 1990s under the ownership of dairy company Parmalat, winning three major European titles.

After Parmalat collapsed in 2003 following a huge financial fraud, the club went bankrupt. They sunk to Serie D in 2015.

Three successive promotions put them back in the top flight in 2018. They were relegated after finishing bottom of the league last season with 83 goals conceded in 38 games.

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