Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon doesn’t know if he’s the best ever - “everyone can choose the best”.
The Azzurri captain has played over 1000 professional games in his career, and has been one of the top ‘keepers in the world ever since making his debut for Parma at the age of 17.
“Am I the best goalkeeper ever?” Buffon considered, speaking to FIFA’s official website.
“I like the idea, but I am not someone who can support that and celebrate myself. Everyone can choose the best - for someone I might be, for someone else I might not.
“In my case the career and numbers of course tell a lot, but at this level facts are facts and words count for nothing.
“I never look back at my past. I know what I’ve done, and have great respect for it. It’s always in my heart, but I’m always living in the present and possibly the future.
“I prefer to be focused on the present. If I think about the past too much it makes me a little sad, because I can count how many years have passed, and remember some emotions that can’t be lived again.
“Too many things have changed: age, team-mates… I don’t want to live in all these memories that, now and forever, are part of myself, but right now I’m living in the present and thinking only about the future.
“When you are closer to the end of your career, of course you think about all of your achievements and records, and you realise the kind of player you are.
“I’m proud of my 20-year career with the national team and hope to continue for a 21st year too.
“I think that it’s also extraordinary to play in one of the most important national teams for 21 years; maintaining a high standard of performance and staying strong mentally and physically for a long time. It’s not so common.”
Buffon won FIFA’s inaugural best goalkeeper award, and is glad that such an award has now been introduced.
“Our position is fundamental on the pitch. We can be decisive in a win or in a defeat.
“All in all we are as important as a striker that scores goals. We feel the responsibility to fill an important position on the pitch and all our play can be very positive or very negative during a game.
“Everyone who watches the game can easily notice it, so a goalkeeper's performance can heavily influence results.
“Since I was a child, I always have liked difficult tasks. Every time I've had to make a choice, I’ve followed my nature.
“I’m the kind of person who always wants to face hard challenges, almost impossible ones. Playing as a goalkeeper is a consequence of my character and nature.”