Buffon wins Yashin award

Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has won the Lev Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper at the FIFA World Cup finals.

Italy, who won the 2006 World Cup title on Sunday night, conceded only two goals in their seven matches in Germany. The first was an own goal in the 1-1 draw with the United States in the group stage. The other was a penalty made by France playmaker Zinedine Zidane in the final.

Buffon, the Juventus star, is a worthy successor to Belgium's legendary Michel Preud' Homme, flamboyant French keeper Fabien Barthez and Germany's Oliver Kahn, the Yashin award winners in 1994, 1998 and 2002 respectively.

Buffon has been singled out as a potential all-time great ever since making his Serie A debut at tender age of 17 years and nine months.

Buffon wasted no time in making his mark at Germany 2006. Buffon's acrobatics in his side's opening game against Ghana were ample proof of his full recovery from the potentially career-threatening shoulder injury suffered at the beginning of the 2005/06 season.

Despite having to endure a number of other knocks and niggles throughout the campaign, Buffon timed his return to full fitness perfectly, hitting top form to help the Vecchia Signora clinch the league title and the Azzurri lift the FIFA World Cup.

Buffon's toughest test came in the group game against Czech Republic, going head-to-head with Juventus club-mate Pavel Nedved. After an intriguing duel, it was the keeper who came out on top, keeping a clean sheet in Italy's 2-0 win.

In one of the highlights of Italy's campaign, Buffon ran the length of field to celebrate with his team-mates after Marco Materazzi's opener against Czech Republic. With the benefit of hindsight, this was the first sign that an indomitable team spirit was being forged among the members of Marcello Lippi's squad.

In the Final itself, Buffon overcame the blow of conceding an early Zinedine Zidane penalty to put in an exemplary display, typified in the second half when he tipped over a goalbound Zidane header. Not may would argue against the fact that Buffon is a worthy FIFA World Cup winner and a deserved recipient of the Lev Yashin Award.

Source: Xinhua

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