THE GUARDIAN OF PARIS
Italian football legend Gianluigi Buffon on the ability to look good as well as think on your feet
GIANLUIGI “GIGI” BUFFON is one of very few footballers in the world who have transcended a generation. At age 40, the Italian player’s track record is arguably unmatched, whether as a goalkeeper, a national player or as an unofficial ambassador of the sport he loves just by playing it so damn well.
Buffon was recently in Singapore to join the stellar team fielded by French club
Paris Saint-Germain for the International Champion’s Cup. And thanks to HUGO BOSS, the official tailor of the team since 2014, we managed to grab an interview and a photoshoot with him, swathed in the fine threads of BOSS naturally.
Ask any football fan which club they’d associate Buffon with and the answer you will most likely get is Juventus. Although he had his start in Serie A with Parma (he joined in 1991 as a youth footballer, then subsequently played as a professional) from 1995 to 2001, Buffon’s tenure at Juventus lasted from 2001 to 2018. His appearances for the team come in just second after
Del Piero, at 656. He has won nine Serie A trophies and five Coppa Italias with the team in that time. For some reason though, the Champion’s League trophy has eluded him.
The move from Juventus earlier this year was one of the biggest surprises in the football universe. When asked how he felt about making the decision, Buffon shared, “For me, it wasn’t an easy decision to take because it meant a big change to my life after so many years in Torino. But the enthusiasm to accept a new challenge with Paris Saint-Germain was a bigger factor in my decision.”
Buffon alluded that Paris Saint-Germain’s ambition to conquer both the French league and the Champions League played a huge part in convincing him it was time to move.
We asked him about the strategy going forward in the Champions League might be and Buffon answered diplomatically: “I think the Champions League is a dream for the club and for the players, but it’s important
to understand what it would take to achieve it. Before you win the Champions League, you must face many challenges. You need to equip yourself with the best skills and energy. It’ll also help if Lady Luck smiles on you. The team will have to work hard and stay focused in every competition if we are to advance in the Champions League.”
One would think that Buffon’s 24 years of experience in football would be a game-changer for Paris Saint-Germain, but the man cutting the formidable figure in the BOSS suit doesn’t display an iota of arrogance or complacency.
“Nobody ever told me I’m coming here as the main goalkeeper, and that’s a good thing. Firstly, it is respect for the other goalkeepers of Paris Saint-Germain. Secondly, I have just arrived in a new country with a different championship, and I am still adjusting.
Lastly, we will have many matches and it’s a smart move to have more goalkeepers because we may face injury or fatigue. I think that a great club like Paris Saint-Germain needs to have great goalkeepers and this is the case here.”
It may feel like a reboot for Buffon in the new club and that he needs to warm up. But his time in Serie A yielded 12 Goalkeeper of the Year awards for him and we don’t see this streak ending anytime soon. Along with Paris Saint-Germain’s acquisition of players such as Neymar, Dani Alves and Ángel Di María in recent years, success is almost guaranteed for Paris Saint-Germain.
What then does the greatest goalkeeper in modern football, attribute his success to? “I first started playing in the field but I changed because I found that my ability to interpret situations in matches allowed me to contribute better as a goalkeeper.
So I changed positions and focused on the keeping the other team from scoring goals,” Buffon shared.
In the wake of the Ben Davis-National Service controversy, we asked Buffon if he has advice for kids wanting to play football professionally. “The best advice I can give to kids is to play for pleasure and to have fun when they are on the pitch with their teammates. Only when you love the game, can you create magic on the field,” he said.
He reached for the glass of water, and his suit moved in harmony with his athletic sinews. We asked Buffon what his style was, observing how comfortable he looked in the BOSS Create Your Look suit. “I like it when a suit fits perfectly as well as allows you to move with ease. That I think is really elegant,” Buffon shared. Given the his heritage and the style Italians exude, it makes sense that Buffon cuts as powerful a figure in a suit as he does in his jersey.
While Buffon’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain is only for a year (with a year for option), the legend joked that he will probably play till he’s 65. Seeing him in the flesh and on the field, we don’t see it as a joke. Buffon has seen the future. AM