Gianluigi Buffon explained why he went to Serie B with Juventus. “I had to show players have feelings too and there is more to life than popularity and money. I would do it again.”

The goalkeeper was at the time in the running for the Ballon d’Or, had just won the 2006 World Cup with Italy and was at the peak of his career.

Yet he decided to drop down into the second division with Juve following the Calciopoli scandal that also stripped him of two Serie A titles.

“When I decided to stay in Serie B I was glad to do so, because I think there are some men, some players, who have the opportunity to give the sport some hope through their decisions, for the public, for the fans,” Buffon told The Players Tribune.

“It was a time when somebody like me needed to send a message: That players have feelings too and there is more to life than popularity and money. I would do it again.

“Then we won Serie B. It was a fun year. And after two good years being second or third came two or three very bad years, when Juventus was unrecognizable. We lost our spirit, our identity, our work ethic. Some years we finished sixth or seventh, and I would say to myself, “Why on earth did I choose this?” But I said that quietly, because I’m usually a positive person, an optimist. I am sure that hard work and good behaviour always do the trick. I’ve always said so.

“Six years later, when I wore the championship shield again, I was so happy. It was a tough choice. Six very rough years. When you are used to winning … six years not playing much in the Champions League. I didn’t get to play much in European competitions. With a bit of effort, we made a comeback.”

Interviewed by Gerard Pique, Buffon was asked if he was ever tempted to go abroad, for example to Spain or England.

“I would have liked to because I like being around different people, other ways of life, of thinking. It sounded appealing. But deep down I feel very Italian.

“I know Italy has its limitations, but the world I know makes me smile and I like it. As a figure in sports, I didn’t and still don’t want to leave Italy as long as I don’t have to.”

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