In an interview with AFP, the legendary Italian goalkeeper spoke about the World Cup in Qatar which starts in five days (November 20-December 18).
The Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon welcomes the fact that the goalkeepers are doing “more things today” in the game, but recalls that “the fundamental thing remains” that they succeed “parades”, in an interview with AFP before the World Cup-2022 which opens Sunday.
The record holder of selections for the Italian team (176), retired international since 2018 and returned to Parma, in Serie B, also regrets, in support of Thibaut Courtois, that this position is still often forgotten for the Ballon d’Or.
What is your feeling when, four years later, a new World Cup begins without Italy?
As a tifoso, it’s sad. But those who are even worse off are the players. I experienced it (in 2018). When the World Cup starts and you’re at home, it’s a great pain, a weight that you will always carry. Whatever the rest of your career, it’s something that has been taken away from the tifosi, from the Italian people, it’s the hardest thing to accept.
Looking back, how do you explain Italy’s surprise defeat against North Macedonia in the play-offs (0-1)?
It’s unthinkable, but it makes you understand how crucial the psychological aspect is in sport. Italy probably played while still having the disappointment of not having finished at the top of their group, the missed penalties (against Switzerland, editor’s note). These negative aspects have made even a supposedly easy match an insurmountable obstacle.
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After your coronation in 2006, tell us how much a World Cup can change a player’s life…
It’s a competition where, if you do less than expected, you feel beleaguered everywhere. But if you go beyond that, like us in 2006, it’s an intoxication that lasts for months. A beautiful feeling, because you understand that you are an essential tool for people’s happiness, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.
Since your debut in 1995, the role of goalkeeper has continued to evolve with ever more footwork. How do you judge this development?
This development has improved the football, the game and the pace, but also the goalkeepers. A goalkeeper knows how to do more things today and it’s nice to see him live the match with the whole team. But as everywhere, do not exaggerate. It’s important for a goalkeeper to have good feet and make good passes. But the fundamental thing remains that he knows how to make parades! A goalkeeper who makes saves does one essential thing first: he secures the team.
Do you think you brought something to the post yourself?
I think I stood out, yes, to have deserved a place in the history of this position, but what I brought, I do not know. What is beautiful is to have started in 1995 and to still play, although football has constantly evolved. It means that I manage to adapt.
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Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois recently regretted that goalkeepers are often “forgotten” for the Ballon d’Or. Is it impossible for a goalkeeper to win this trophy?
I think it is possible, but exceptional circumstances would have to arise, linked to a social, political or other context. It’s logical that he got angry: he was considered the best goalkeeper in the Champions League and was only seventh in the Ballon d’Or, that can’t be explained… In 2003, I I had been named best goalkeeper but also best player in the Champions League and I came ninth in the Ballon d’Or. It still means that something is wrong, that’s my opinion, but in all serenity, huh!
You launched an Academy two years ago, what advice do you give to young goalkeepers?
Always only one: to have fun. It’s the only real ingredient that can get you to 44 still playing. This project brings me a lot of satisfaction, the feedback is very positive. In two years, we have already done internships in Australia, Bulgaria, the United States, Israel, China… And we are called from everywhere.
A final challenge: who do you see winning the World Cup?
Argentina and Brazil, I see them as too strong. Individually, France seems to me the only European nation that can compete, but as a team I don’t know… France, a bit like Italy, sometimes gets lost and doesn’t achieve the results it could. obtain. And maybe Belgium, because I really like Courtois.
World Cup: “France, a bit like Italy, sometimes gets lost,” says Buffon