Buffon: I'm never relaxed for a penalty shootout

The Juventus stalwart lifted the World Cup in 2006 following a spot-kick contest, and thwarted Ashley Cole from 12 yards as England lost yet another shootout in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

Azzurri skipper Buffon appeared as cool as a cucumber before the penalties commenced in Kiev two years ago. The 36-year-old custodian gave England counterpart Steven Gerrard a cheeky tap on the face and flick of the ear during the coin toss to determine which team would go first.

But Buffon, speaking exclusively in the July 2014 issue of FourFourTwo, says there is pressure on him to perform during a shootout as he expected to save at least one.

"No, no, I wasn't relaxed against the English," he says. "And I'm never relaxed when the game goes to penalties. Look: you go to penalties, you've got a 50 per cent chance of winning, but a 50 per cent chance of losing.

"I'm one of those handful of goalkeepers who are always expected to save at least one or two of those penalties. And if I don't do that, I'm going to be judged really harshly by the press. So no, I can't be relaxed before penalties."

Buffon will come up against England and fellow glovesman Joe Hart in Italy's opening game of the 2014 World Cup on July 14.

The Juventus great, who has made more than 700 club outings for the Old Lady since arriving from Parma in 2001, believes the Manchester City goalkeeper and Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois are currently among the world's best.

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

Read the full interview with Gianluigi Buffon in the July 2014 issue of FourFourTwo; a World Cup special which also includes exclusive chats with Lionel Messi, Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani, Dani Alves and Cafu. The greatest World Cup matches ever are revealed, while FFT tells the inside story of the best ad ever: Brazil's France '98 airport tomfoolery. Available in print and for-iPad.

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