Gianluigi Buffon insists he didn’t join Paris Saint-Germain for one last payday - “I will never prostitute my ideals and dreams for money”.
The goalkeeper was expected to retire in the summer, but while he did leave Juventus he opted to continue his career with the Ligue 1 champions.
“There’s always a bit of envy, that’s human too,” Buffon told Corriere della Sera, when asked about those who say he joined for money.
“The first rule is not to be conditioned by the judgements and ideas of others. I will never prostitute my ideals and dreams for money. If I was going to then I’d have done it long before now.
“Money is important, it’s a means to live better, but I’m not venal.
“They thought I was a madman, or a statue only missing the pigeons. My enthusiasm makes me young though, and if I want to continue I can’t be like an old grandpa.
“Sometimes I’m more ‘stupid’ than someone who is 20 and people don’t realise my age.
“I’m very proud to be here, because to receive an offer from a club like this is a big satisfaction. I always gave my best, I am sure I behaved well and life rewarded me with this bonus.”
Buffon has been alternating with Alphonse Areola this season, isn’t that strange?
“With the difference in our age and perspectives there’s no competition, only synergy and even friendship.
“Areola is an exceptional goalkeeper and a person of infinite goodness that melts me. When he plays he’s happy, and I’m also here to help him become a reference point for France and in Europe.
“The reception I’ve had has been extraordinary, people stop me to thank me and at 40 that’s incredible. That there’s a part of the world that still considers you important is an added value.”
PSG are aiming to win the Champions League, and that’s also the one big trophy missing from their goalkeeper’s cabinet…
“Only at the end of my career will I tell you what the Champions League was for me,” Buffon said.
“That said, I didn't come here to win it, because if I had I would not have understood anything. I hope to bring something more and improve upon what’s been done up to now, that would be important.”
Buffon has never played outside of Italy before, and he was asked how he views his homeland from outside.
“I have a kind of soft spot for all our faults. We are a beautiful people, although inconsistent, impulsive, and sometimes nonsensical.
“If a boat sinks in Lampedusa and 300 people die, we’re moved and even think about adopting the orphaned children.
“But if it doesn’t sink we complain about the arrival of 300 immigrants and ask what they’re here to do…
“The racism at San Siro? These are indecent things, and of course I’m not referring to Milanese people, but those who now have hatred rooted inside them and let it out when cheering in the stadium.
“There’s no need to demagogue, but we need zero tolerance or we’ll find ourselves surrounded by even worse people.
“Football probably has nothing to do with all this, it’s a much more serious and complex subject. There are seeds of hatred being sown everywhere, including in the stadiums.
“Would I go into politics? I’ve learned never to say never. You have to be selfless inside, and I think I’ve always been that.
“I’d like to carve out a small space where I can be a tool for dreams or for help. But I still don’t know what that will be.”