Napoli and Italy starlet Alex Meret has expressed his gratitude for Gianluigi Buffon’s praise. “If I became a goalkeeper, I owe it to him.”
Buffon previously said it was ‘exciting’ to watch Meret work, and the former Udinese shot-stopper is ready to repay the Italy icon by ‘emulating’ him.
“It’s a great source of satisfaction,” he said at a Press conference for Italy Under-21s’ upcoming games against Austria and Croatia.
“I’m honoured by these words, spoken by the best in the world. They’re an incentive to keep improving.
“I’ll try to emulate what he did for his club, national team and in the history of football. I was in love with Buffon the goalkeeper growing up. If I became a goalkeeper, I owe it to him.
“Lately I’ve really liked Handanovic, who I think is the best right now in Serie A. I had the honour of watching him as a child in Udine. I also like Oblak. I try to take the best things from all the great goalkeepers.
“The Italian school of goalkeepers has always been at a very high level. I’m working to improve myself and then we’ll see about the future.
“We’ll all give our best to win with the national team. I feel ready and I’m happy every time I wear the Azzurri jersey.
“The group has been preparing for the [U21] European Championship for a long time. We have to give everything.
“We’ll be playing in front of our fans, so that gives us an extra boost, but we mustn’t underestimate anyone, plus the Final will be in Udine and I’m from there: it would be a dream to get there.
The 21-year-old has overcome injury problems to become Napoli’s No 1, and he gave his opinion on the rest of the season, as well as wishing teammate David Ospina well.
“It’s been a special half of a year because I missed the first part of the season due to injury and it wasn’t an easy time for me,” he continued.
“However, now I’m happy to have found consistency and consequently broken into the national team.
“In Naples I immediately felt at home with the group. Playing for a top team helps you mature and grow quicker.
“We’re having a good season and we hope to keep going the Europa League, which is our main objective.
“The clash with Roma after the break will be very important to maintain the lead we have over our rivals, but we’re aware of our strength and we’ll go there to win.
“After what happened on Sunday, I sent him a message. I was very sorry for him, but I know it’s nothing serious and that he’s fine now. I’m happy for him, he’s a great champion.”