Gigi Buffon told L’Equipe about his sense of loyalty to Juventus, passion playing for Italy and why he is now “easier to criticise.”
The Azzurri captain is the only Serie A and Italian representative in the top 20 for the Ballon d’Or, coming in at a very respectable ninth place.
“I don’t get downhearted after a mistake, because everyone can make one or two a year – but not more,” Buffon told L’Equipe.
“When I made one error, it was suddenly treated as a disaster and people said I was getting old. I am easier to criticise because I’m 38 now, but the truth is I made mistakes at the age of 30 and 25 too.
“I am very self-critical. If I one day believe that my errors are because I am no longer nimble or not reading the situations properly, then I’ll be the first to put my hands up and retire. The truth is that criticism motivates me and when I no longer feel that rage to prove myself, it'll be time to quit.
"The plan is to hang up my gloves after the 2018 World Cup. If I'm able to play in six World Cups, then I'll be happy."
Buffon was last in contention for the Ballon d’Or when Italy won the World Cup in 2006, but that summer he decided to drop down into Serie B with Juventus anyway.
“I stayed because I have certain values in my life, such as the sense of belonging and gratitude towards a club, squad and fans who always behaved fairly with me.”
The goalkeeper wears the captain’s armband for both Juve and Italy, where at Euro 2016 his passionate rendition of the national anthem created new fans.
He also gained praise and even thanks from the French Government after sparking a round of applause to drown out jeers during the French anthem ahead of a recent friendly.
“When I was younger, I didn’t sing with quite the same conviction. It’s only natural, people mature and see things differently. Today the national anthem represents so much more to me.
"It's stupid to jeer the anthem when there was so much sacrifice behind it. Jeering an anthem is like humiliating your mother or father.
“It’s inevitable that a player also needs to be a role model and I do take that responsibility seriously, but it’s also true that one shouldn’t exaggerate the importance of a footballer in society either.
“I raise my children, it’s not Gonzalo Higuain, Gigio Donnarumma or Alessandro Del Piero who raises them. Parents can use player’s behaviour or situations to discuss life situations with their children, but that cannot be considered the basis of a child’s upbringing.”