Gianluigi Buffon explains why he didn’t ‘fully enjoy’ Italy’s World Cup victory and reveals he thought he had saved an Alessandro Nesta penalty kick in a Champions League Final against Milan in 2003.
Buffon, a former Juventus, Parma, PSG and Italy goalkeeper, released a lengthy interview with Italian podcast The BSMT, going behind the scenes of some of the most iconic moments of his legendary career.
Buffon revealed he had decided to retire in 2018 so he refused to sign a contract extension with Juventus. However, PSG made an offer to sign him a few months later, so Gigi had a second thought and decided to move to France.
“Towards April, my agent came and asked me if I really wanted to retire. I said I had decided, but if Barcelona, Real Madrid or PSG would call the day after, I would think about it,” said Buffon.
“The following month, my agent called me again asking to meet and I understood one of these three clubs had called. It was an amazing experience, humanly and professionally. In Paris, I felt free again. It is an international city where you can go to a restaurant and meet Leonardo Di Caprio, and nobody cares because it’s the normality. I felt like a world citizen and everyone loved me.
“I saw incredibly talented players all at once,” Buffon continued.
“I was coming from Juventus, who already had strong players, but when I arrived at PSG, I thought, ‘Mamma Mia.’ If we take all these players and bring them to Turin, we’ll win the Champions League four times in a row. But like in all things, there are pros and cons. The likes of Mbappé, Verratti, Neymar, Thiago Silva, and Marquinhos were incredible, but I wondered how they could not win the Champions League because it felt impossible. Then you understand certain dynamics with so many big players, it can become complicated even if there was a nice environment in the dressing room that season.”
Buffon won several trophies in his career, including 10 Serie A titles with Juventus, more than any other player, and a World Cup with Italy in 2006.
“It was surely an amazing moment, but I remember we were so under pressure that when we won, I was so tired that I didn’t fully enjoy it,” Buffon said, speaking about Italy’s winning World Cup campaign in Germany.
“I was satisfied, of course, but I was exhausted. The turning point was the journey we had made together and some things still hurt us, like the previous Euros in Portugal. These difficult moments united us even more. There was great motivation. Marcello Lippi was also crucial. He gave two or three important signals. First, when Francesco Totti got injured. From the following day, he supported him. Before leaving for the World Cup, the Calciopoli mess exploded but Lippi kept the bar high and gave us great strength, making us understand that we could have beaten criticism and controversy.”
The legendary Italian keeper also played three Champions League finals at Juventus but never managed to put his hands on the Cup With the Big Ears. When asked which save he regrets not making, Buffon replied: “It was in the Champions League Final against Milan in 2003 that went to penalties.
“We missed three and they missed two. Nesta took the fourth penalty for them. I dove in the right direction, and I was sure I would have saved it. However, at some point, I saw the ball moving more quickly in the final two meters; it slightly changed direction, and I saw the ball entering the net. It was so disheartening. I still remember it. It was so disappointing that at that moment, it all became black. This doesn’t mean we would have won, but it was a very disappointing moment for me.”