Gianluigi Buffon hopes that Cristiano Ronaldo will win the Ballon d’Or’ at Juventus and revealed the coaches that had the most influence on his career.
The Juve goalkeeper gave a lengthy interview with his wife and TV presenter Ilaria D’Amico and recounted his career over the years.
“Apparently I make saves in my sleep… Maybe they were the ones I wasn’t able to make during my career,” he laughed.
“I am very competitive and if I’m still playing, that’s the reason why. I like rivalry, but hate is humiliating to all mankind.
“I love Conte, he was my teammate first, my captain, my Coach at Juve and the Nazionale. I know the man and the professional, so I could never blame him for anything. He has this incredible professionalism and fairness when dealing with the squad, and is capable of really teaching football.
“Conte genuinely does not sleep at night if his team doesn’t play the way he wants. I understand the Bianconeri fans who are upset, but they must start from the idea that someone like Antonio has to be respected, because he gave all of himself for Juve and achieved great results.
“His choices can be debated, but what he gave to and received from Juve is very special.
“Coaches? The toughest was certainly Conte. The most fun was Renzo Ulivieri, but also Max Allegri. Maurizio Sarri is the pickiest Coach I’ve ever dealt with.
“Carlo Ancelotti is the Coach I owe the most to. If Nevio Scala had the crazy idea of giving me my debut for Parma, Carlo was even crazier – he made me first choice ahead of Luca Bucci, my friend and an Italy international, after five or six games.
“It was a huge weight on my shoulders, but that’s where my career really started. I remember the goalkeeping coach William Vecchi told me: ‘Don’t be optimistic, because you’d be a loser. I’m sure you won’t let us down.’”
Talk turned to his move to France to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.
“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.
“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.
“The BBBC? 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.
“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!”
[Translation from Football Italia]