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Buffon's #UCL wish: 'I have always wanted to win it'

Ready to make his 150th UEFA club competiton appearance in the semi-final decider, Gianluigi Buffon recalled past near misses, and said what it would mean to finally win the UEFA Champions League.

Gianluigi Buffon with his silver medal after the 2015 UEFA Champions League final
Gianluigi Buffon with his silver medal after the 2015 UEFA Champions League final ©Getty Images

On Monaco ...

I'll let you into a little secret. Around the 30-minute mark of their match away to Manchester City, I sent a message to one of our directors, saying: "Hey, this lot could make it to the final; they're really strong!" That shows you how much respect we have for them. They play positive, energetic football and they're a sparkling, physical side with quality players and a lot of experience. We know that if we want to get another shot at winning the Champions League, we have to overcome an obstacle that'll be at least as tricky as Barcelona in footballing terms.

On feeling his age at 39 ...

Kylian Mbappé: born yesterday
Kylian Mbappé: born yesterday©AFP/Getty Images

Monaco's Kylian Mbappé was born in December 1998. I had already played at the World Cup in France by then! That's the nice thing about having such a long career: meeting kids who weren't even born when you already had a chunk of your career under your belt.

I was thinking the other day that I've managed to span almost three generations. When I started playing, you still had guys born in the end of the '50s and the '60s –and I'll finish with guys born in the 2000s. It's a huge span of time! It's nice knowing that I'm playing with the future Messis, Cristiano Ronaldos and Neymars, because in ten years, after I have been retired for a while, they will be confirmed superstars and I'll remember facing them at the dawn of their careers.

On making up for past final losses ...

There's definitely a desire to make up for losing the final in Berlin [to Barcelona in 2015], but I also have to make amends for Manchester in 2003 [when Juventus lost to AC Milan on penalties], so going back through the years my motivation is a lot deeper.

In 2015, we lost it at a moment when Barcelona were on the ropes. We let in a goal almost on the counterattack: Messi hammered a shot on goal, I diverted it and Suárez scored.

2003: 'I was convinced I'd win many more'
2003: 'I was convinced I'd win many more'©Getty Images

Losing on penalties in 2003 was very painful, but since I was only 25, I was fairly calm because I was convinced I'd win many more! That's the exuberance of youth. I was so close to winning it on that occasion; they missed three penalties in that final – I saved two of them. Strange things happen. It wasn't meant to be and we weren't good enough. In sport and life, those who deserve it more probably end up getting their rewards.

After the return leg against Barcelona this season I was very happy, of course, but I did not celebrate too much, because I know that after a certain point you either win the trophy or get disappointed. And since I have been disappointed so many times, I want to get the victory before allowing myself to celebrate!

On what it would mean to finally lift the trophy ...

It would mean a lot for me. It would be the greatest joy of my career, together with the [2006] World Cup, because it would almost be a reward – the end of a very difficult road paved by bravery, stubbornness and hard work. I have always wanted to win it and I have always been convinced that I can do it together with my team, the fans, my colleagues. That would be great – we can talk about it later if it happens!