Euro 2012: Gianluigi Buffon backs Joe Hart to be world's best

Euro 2012: England v Italy

  • Venue: Olympic Stadium, Kiev
  • Date: Sunday, 24 June
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: BBC One, BBC One HD, BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 live

Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon believes England number one Joe Hart has the potential to become the best goalkeeper in the world.

Buffon, 34, is set to win his 118th cap in Sunday's quarter-final against England, and rates 25-year-old Hart as one of the best young keepers around.

The young pretenders

  • Joe Hart (Man City) - 25, 21 caps for England
  • Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) - 26, 29 caps for Germany
  • Salvatore Sirigu (PSG) - 25, two caps for Italy

"Together with Manuel Neuer and Salvatore Sirigu, Hart can become the best in the world," Buffon said.

"I think it is a very balanced game against England, totally equal."

Manchester City's Hart has been in fine form for England during Euro 2012 while Bayern Munich keeper Neuer has established himself as first choice for Germany.

Sirigu, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, is third choice for Italy but is seen as the long-term sucessor to Buffon.

England Italy

World Cup winner Buffon put the secret to a goalkeeper's success down to consistency.

"The difference between a normal keeper and a great goalkeeper is the attention to detail, to not commit mistakes during one season," he said.

"The maximum number of mistakes a keeper can commit is two or three per season."

England's disciplined approach under Roy Hodgson was again compared to the Chelsea team that won the Champions League last season, and Buffon expects a tight game which could go to penalties.

He said: "Chelsea have played well in defence against Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Probably, Bayern and Barcelona are the stronger teams but Chelsea won the match.

"I think, in this way, we can find similarities between England and Chelsea.

"Definitely for all us it would be better to try to close out the match beforehand but if it goes to penalties so be it.

"On paper against England it is 50/50 who will win. It will be a game where little episodes will make the difference."