Juventus Coach Massimiliano Allegri doesn’t get enough credit for his “exceptional” work, according to Gianluigi Buffon.
The Bianconeri boss has won the double in each of the past three seasons, reaching two Champions League finals in that time, and the goalkeeper doesn’t feel he’s appreciated enough. “Winning repeatedly is extremely difficult,” Buffon told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I risk getting to 2,500 days in a row where I wake up thinking ‘I have to win’. On a mental level it’s tiring.
“This year I was surprised to hear that we were in trouble. But if Napoli won every game it wasn’t our fault…
“I also heard that the defence was weaker, but the men in it were more or less the same. The club built a very strong squad, made up of men with pride, dedication, and a desire to compete and excel, who hope to win again.
“Then there’s also the management of Allegri, which no-one ever talks about because he doesn’t advertise it, which is exceptional. I feel like there are compliments for everyone, but not many for him.
“I’m not referring to anyone, it’s a dispassionate defence of the Coach. We don’t hear much about Allegri, but when you win so much it means the Coach is crucial.
“I’d never be a Coach, but if I did what I’d take from him would be his lucidity and his courageous madness which pushed him to make certain choices at certain times.”
Buffon also discussed how both he and football have changed since he made his debut at the age of 17.
“Football has improved, there’s a lot more professionalism and knowledge of every aspect, from tactics to food.
“We’ve reached unimaginable levels of excellence.
“It’s often said there are no more club symbols, but it’s just a question of choice. If you want to, you can renounce certain things to become a club symbol.
“Of course you have to find a club that has the same ambitions, as [Paolo] Maldini did at Milan.
“When have I failed to set the right example? Many times. But the good thing, which I think people appreciate of me, is humanity.
“I’m someone who in error - or in alleged error, sometimes my face has been linked with situations which had nothing to do with me - has no masks.
“There are steps you have to take if you want to become stronger as a man and have more self-esteem.
“I recognise 1,000 faults but I think I’m a transparent person, one from whom you’d never expect a sucker punch.
“I say what I have to say, but with education, respecting rules and roles.
“I don’t often watch video of my younger self, but that’s not to deny anything. That character was my strength, even if at times I feel uncomfortable about what I said and how I said it.
“That lad was crazy and strong to make a stand, even with the damage he did. That’s not me any more though, even if I look at him with sympathy.
“Life is about evolution, if I was like that at the age of 40 I’d have problems.
“Could I go into politics? Politics is a bit of a strange world, there are things which can be improved, we all see that.
“Everyone tries, but no-one succeeds - how can that be, I wonder? If these things aren’t fixed it means impotence prevails over everything.”
Buffon was one of the Italy players who held a team meeting before the second leg of the World Cup play-off against Sweden, which was seen by some as undermining CT Giampiero Ventura.
“In other years there were precise moments in which we had meetings between the players, something which seemed crazy in the national team.
“When I see ex-players on TV saying ‘in my day…’ I want to say ‘But didn’t you talk in your day?’.
“A meeting is nothing scandalous, it’s a sense of responsibility from those who want to change a negative situation. Ventura knew about it, and it was he who stimulated it.
“How much blame does Ventura have? None, and that’s not rhetoric. When you fail it’s everyone’s fault.
“There are historical moments where you’re just not up to it. Even when we were very strong it was never a walkover against Sweden, we’d win 1-0 or 2-1, always with balanced games.
“This time we happened to lose, as happened at other times, it’s just this one was really worth a lot.”
Finally, the goalkeeper was asked which of his former teammates had wasted the most talent.
“Antonio Cassano,” Buffon replied.
“The friendliest? [Tino] Asprilla, definitely. Then Simone Pepe.”