Buffon: 'Work for the team'
On the eve of the Coupe de France final between Paris Saint-Germain and Rennes, the capital club's Italian goalkeeper looked ahead to the match and back at a first season in Rouge et Bleu.
Gigi, after nine months in France, how has it been?
"For me it’s been a beautiful experience… I have spent nine months in a stupendous city, a city that welcomed me with affection and warmth… It has been a great pleasure and I am very happy to have made this choice to come here."
How have you benefitted from this Parisian experience?
"I wanted another footballing experience and a life experience, that could be enriching for me, and I have to say, today, all the reasons for coming here, for making this choice, have been fulfilled, because I have always been curious to confront myself with different worlds. I have always been humble enough to try and learn from different experiences and this has been the case here in Paris. I have learnt quite good French which is something I know will help me in the future and make me a better person, more confident in myself. And this has been very important for me."
It's been a great season on the pitch that started with a record 14 consecutive wins...
"Sometimes I feel sorry for people who work in football and don’t understand just how hard it is to always win, even if you are the strongest team, winning takes a lot of mental and physical energy, to keep working well, to keep finding the right answers, to keep playing well, that not everyone is capable of, and it doesn’t do it justice to say: they won the league because they are the strongest! You win because, for sure, we are the strongest, but also because in each of us there is a professionalism and a pride that we give to the service of the team throughout the weeks of training and to win each and every game."
Playing in a squad with two number 1s has been something new for you...
Yes, we can say this is the first time I’ve experienced this because at Juventus over the last two or three years, normally if I wasn’t injured, the other ‘keeper would only play 10 or 15 matches, and I think that was important because everyone needs to feel that they are an important part of the team… this year has definitely been something different, something I wasn’t used to, but something I happily accepted… I happily accepted it because I’m a person that loves being a part of the group with the other guys, always trying to convey positiveness and conveying positivity means accepting the coach’s choices that can benefit the other players and I think this is a great thing… And I have to say that with Alphonse, Sebastien and Thomas, we have created a really great working unit, with friendship and admiration, and I think that is our greatest victory as goalkeepers."
The Coupe de France is coming up... What's different about the Coupe de France compared to Ligue 1?
"The fact that it’s a one-off match, a final, brings the two sides closer together, the gap isn’t as wide as it can be over 38 matches… In the final, and in this case, there is a favourite… and it’s us, but it’s a final where anything can happen, you can have a player sent off, an injury, you could hit the post and so we have to be very careful."
What do you think of this Rennes side?
"I think Rennes are a very dangerous side. Very dangerous, because I remember the game in Rennes and the game here in Paris and we won 3-1 and 4-1, but they were very difficult matches. I think they are a very organised side especially in attack… I have to say that this year I have been surprised by the standard of this championship, because when you don’t play here, you maybe think there’s Paris and that’s it… but I can say, in Ligue 1 I have seen Lille, Lyon, Rennes and also Strasbourg in the league who I think would all do very well in Serie A."