Tuesday September 10 2013
Buffon: 'Now we celebrate'

Gigi Buffon admits he was “terrorised” of the party atmosphere in Turin, but after victory can celebrate his record 136 caps.

The World Cup qualifier with the Czech Republic had been painted as a huge festival of football, as Buffon matched Fabio Cannavaro’s total Italy caps at the Juventus Stadium and a win would book their spot at Brazil 2014.

“I am terrorised of the lead-ups to games that are proclaimed as parties,” laughed the goalkeeper on RAI Sport.

The Azzurri were trailing 1-0 at the break, but fought back for a 2-1 win.

“Once that first half was over, we can now say that we can celebrate everything – my little personal record, but above all the qualification for the World Cup.

“I thank all the lads, as thanks to them I can celebrate 360 degrees tonight. We have created so much together over these years and I thank the fans for cheering us on today, as it felt like a new atmosphere to have so much support for the Nazionale. That wasn’t always the case.

“We also dedicate this victory to those two lads who were coming to see us in Sicily and sadly never got there.”

Buffon was referring to the two Sicilian fans who died in a car crash on their way to Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in Palermo.

Mario Balotelli missed several sitters in the first half, but Buffon assured there was no need to calm him down at the break.

“There was nothing for us to say. The Coach focused on that and we just helped him feel within a sense of calm and confidence. He never takes penalties in training, as he knows we might face him one day and doesn't want to give us any advantages...”

Buffon is now the joint all-time top Italy player with 136 caps and at the age of 35 revealed the secret to his longevity.

“There were times in my life when I wanted to have fun and I did, particularly as my body allowed me to. After reaching a certain age you realise that in order to last you have to become a man and behave in a certain way.”

Italy and Holland are the only European teams to have already qualified for the World Cup, but Buffon sees the Azzurri outside the favourites.

“In my view we are on the third row of the grid, but ready for a quick start and potential late surge.”

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