Gigi Buffon gave an extensive interview on Antonio Conte’s contribution to Juventus, Calciopoli, Alex Del Piero, Robin van Persie, Mario Balotelli and Euro 2012.
The goalkeeper sat down with Sky Sport Italia and naturally had to start from the record-breaking unbeaten run to clinch the title.
“The Coach has been put at the centre of the project with his beliefs and his knowledge of Juve. In general you can never tell quite how much a Coach affects a team, but I can say with certainty that our tactician has made a huge impact, more than anyone else, on this campaign. It was possible because the team and club wanted to follow him.”
Conte has been mentioned in the betting scandal investigation from his time at Siena last season, leading some papers to speculate he could be suspended.
“I am not afraid,” assured Buffon. “That’s because I know him and I know football, plus I heard from many Siena players who gave completely different versions to the one put forward by the accuser. Also, those who belong in football already have a good idea on what happened in these situations.
“It’s nothing to do with organised crime or something like that. In some cases you do think to yourselves it’s better to have two injured teams than a dead one, which is why occasionally you get draws. Working out the probabilities in your head and realising a point each suits everyone is not a crime.”
Another investigation in 2006 saw Juventus demoted and stripped of two Scudetti, though the club continues to celebrate this as their 30th rather than 28th title.
“I always say one thing happened on the pitch, another in different arenas. If someone asks how many Scudetti I’ve won with Juve, I’d say five, but they assigned three. That’s the truth.”
Buffon went down to Serie B in 2006 along with Del Piero, but the captain has left Juventus after he was not offered a contract renewal.
“We lose a lot withour Ale. First of all I am losing a friend and a companion. We were together 11-12 years and they were full of incident, good and less good. There is enormous disappointment to be saying goodbye, as more than ever this year he has shown how he helps the Juve cause.
“There was never a moment in which we heard him complain, as he always trained hard and set an example to the squad. In fact, he scored three or four goals that proved to be decisive.
“Would Balotelli fit in at Juve? I’d see him do well here, as he’d fit in with all the strongest teams in the world. He has potential and now we can say a little more than that, because he also proved in many occasions that he can decide a game.
“If Mario came to Juventus he’d certainly become an idol for the fans. He is one of those characters who are in certain ways denigrated – even hated – by opposition fans, but is idolised by his own supporters.
“I was amazed by van Persie, because I didn’t think he’d become such a good hitman when he was out wide. Instead he has shown intelligence to change position and become so important. At the end of the day I don’t know where he could be used at Juve, but that’s up to the Coach.
“Luis Suarez is also a great striker who has been impressive on the international stage for the last four or five years, is very quick, can often skip past his man and find the winning finish. He’s a real hitman.”
Buffon is currently on international duty with Italy preparing for Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland next month.
“I said I’d be happy if Italy had a good Euros, which in my book means at least the semi-final. From there on in, nobody wants to lose and that’s normal. I think the group phase and especially the opening game has always been our Achilles tendon.
“In the tournaments I played in, I don’t remember a winning start or one that brought enthusiasm. In this case we’re facing Spain in our first match, so it’ll certainly be tough and just reaching the next round will be a good result.”
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