Gigi Buffon reveals he would’ve retired without PSG, described the “bond of brotherhood” with Juventus teammates, getting to know Cristiano Ronaldo and that Champions League ambition.
The 41-year-old was interviewed during the Festival dello Sport in Trento today, looking back over his career and you can read the rest of those comments here.
He also discussed more recent developments, such as his departure for Paris Saint-Germain and return to Juve a year later.
“I felt the need to have that experience in Paris, to go outside my comfort zone. There was no guarantee that would go well, but the fact that it did made me a more complete person.
“I want to thank PSG for giving me that opportunity, because without that, I probably would’ve retired last year. I talked to President Andrea Agnelli about it and he said it could be a positive experience for me.
“However, at a certain point, I felt the call of home and family. Being back two weekends per month wasn’t enough for me. I decided to return to Turin, but that wasn’t the only reason. It was like closing a perfect circle with the teammates of a lifetime, albeit in a less important role than the one I had before.
“I am still satisfied anyway, because seeing my teammates run in front of me, them looking at me stand between the posts despite my age, it gives me the strength to keep going. It was a source of pride that Juventus called me at the age of 41 to come back to the Bianconeri.”
Buffon has famously never won the Champions League, but believes it’s not too late to make that right at Juventus.
“I come from a sporting family, so I learned early on the importance of constant improvement, perennial lack of satisfaction. I don’t feel that I’ve given all I can, not the full 100 per cent. Maybe I am missing that 15 per cent I need for the grand finale of this career.”
Buffon also returned to his ‘family’ on the field, as Andrea Barzagli retired only to become a member of Maurizio Sarri’s coaching staff at Juventus, while Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are still playing.
“Let’s say this is one of those relationships that you get very few times in life, even less so in sport. We have total faith in each other, we care for one another and appreciate each one as a person. It is a bond of brotherhood.
“I always talk to them, it’s like a visceral connection. With them by your side, you get the feeling nothing is impossible, you’d be ready to march into any kind of battle.”
Buffon now has another figure of extreme determination in his squad, and reveals how he got to know Cristiano Ronaldo.
“After that overhead kick he scored against us for Real Madrid, I asked him how old he was. He smiled and said: ‘I’m 33. Not bad, right?’
“I thought: ‘Look at this son of a…’ If you can’t beat’em, you join’em! I must say, Cristiano is really a nice guy to be around, we spend a long time discussing and preparing things, he interacts with his teammates. He has been a pleasant surprise.
“If he were to win the Ballon d’Or, and I hope he does, it’ll mean Juve will too have won something important. I know that I never got one, but it’s very tough for goalkeepers, the only shot-stopper who ever got the Ballon d’Or was the legendary Lev Yashin.
“Yashin always said that if you are not tormented after a mistake, then you cannot be a great goalkeeper. In that case, I might be a great goalkeeper!”
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