The big interview: Gianluigi Buffon – "Goalkeepers are perverse – you’re playing a game where everyone uses their feet, but you want to use your hands"

Gigi Buffon FFT
We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Wearing the right gear is crucial for a keeper, so why the short sleeves?
Steve Mason, Facebook 

I really don’t know why. It’s just something that I’ve always done, right from the time I first started playing in goal. It always felt good. And now look: lots of goalkeepers do it. I’ve started a fashion.

If you hadn’t made it in football, what do you think you would you be doing now?
H Silva, via Twitter

Pffffft... I have no idea. I have no idea because, from when I was a kid, I’ve followed this dream of being a footballer and I never thought it wouldn’t happen. There was never a moment when I thought of doing anything else.

You’ve spoken before about enjoying being an entertainer and creating a spectacle for the crowd. Do you think football should still value these qualities when there is so much at stake?
Seb Moore, via email 

Yes, but these things shouldn’t just be a question of money or whatever. If you play for a big club, you’re obliged to win – you have to do it. So I suppose it’s normal that the idea of playing football for enjoyment, to please the crowds, becomes less and less important. But if you go out onto the pitch and the only objective is to beat your opponent, then it’s not really about enjoying yourself.

You look just like a young Al Pacino, Gigi. Ever met him? What’s your favourite Pacino movie?
Neil Hendon, via email 

Who? Pacino? Really? Nooooo! No, really? It’s not bad, though, is it? Hmmm. OK! No, I’ve never met him. My favourite film of his? Oh, Scarface is the best. Definitely.

Italian sides have struggled in the Champions League of late. Why would you say this is? And how far do you think Serie A lags behind La Liga and the Premier League right now?
Jan Fairless, via email 

Yes, yes, it’s true... Italy is having a very tough time economically, and so Italian football suffers as well. There isn’t the sort of money in the game that there was 10 years ago, 20 years ago and yes, we’ve fallen behind, but we [Juventus] came close to success in Europe last season. Will Serie A come good again? I know it will, because these things go around in circles. They do. 

Goalkeepers seem to be playing to a later age these days. What would you say is the peak age for a keeper, and how long do you think you can go on for? Are you targeting 150 caps for Italy?
Lenny Goodhall, via email 

Maybe up until you’re 28, 29, 30, it’s about your physicality, your agility, but after that things change a little and your experience as a keeper begins to kick in. You know how to approach the important games, the sort of thing you only know from experience. And to have that kind of experience, I think you need to be over 30. But there’s a pay-off to that, because you can’t do the same things you could do as a young man. So I don’t know if we can really say there is a peak age, as the two ages can be just as important for different reasons. Good goalkeepers improve all the time, though. Yes, 150 caps would be a great achievement. Let’s see.

You and Iker Casillas have been the best two keepers in world football for the last decade. Who would you say are the next two on that list?
BenIsAinDom, via Twitter

I like Joe Hart: he’s still young and he can become a great keeper. Among the other young keepers I really like is the Belgian, [Thibaut] Courtois.

What single bit of advice would you give an aspiring young goalkeeper looking to make it as a professional?
Jerry JD Redwine, via Twitter

One bit of advice? To swap position... no, no, I’m absolutely serious! You have to be a real masochist to do this as a job. And a bit perverse. Think about it: you’re playing a game where everyone uses their feet, but you want to use your hands...

You’re already the most-capped Italian player and Brazil was your fifth World Cup. Are you aiming to make it six in Russia in 2018?
Hassan Assad, via email 

Yes, there could also be a sixth. But you know, I really haven’t thought about that, not just yet. We’ll see. 

This feature originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

New features you'd love on