As Gianluigi Buffon prepares for what is "without a doubt" his last EURO, the veteran Italy goalkeeper discusses the philosophies and values that have fuelled his long career.
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Destiny made me become a goalkeeper ...
I started as an outfield player, as all children do. I liked scoring goals because in the end that's what it's all about. Then, from the age of six or seven, I played in midfield or as a sweeper, and liked it a lot to be honest. I was a very active child. But it seems I was destined to become a keeper.
My father suggested I try playing in goal, something different. I decided to try it for a year and then go back to being an outfield player. But after five or six months I managed to get pretty good. I probably also had some talent and that drew a lot of attention. A year later I started to play for Parma.
Earliest memories of the Azzurri ...
I definitely remember the 1982 World Cup, aged four – those days at our home, or at my uncle's house, with all the family. Long dinners watching the matches ... But I also remember going outside or onto the balcony to play during the matches. It's nice to remember all those expressions of joy and disappointment from my family.
I have always accepted destiny in life ...
I can recall the disappointment of missing EURO 2000 due to an injury suffered a few days before it started. But I have always accepted destiny in life. Behind every setback is a learning process, and if you are open to that it can be a positive.
I certainly returned home very disappointed, but missing the EURO made me understand how good it is and how much of an honour it is to represent your country. Since then I have appreciated even more anything I have managed to achieve.
Don't have regrets ...
Is this my last EURO? Yes, without a doubt. Everything has a beginning and everything must have an end. I've reached 38 in decent condition and I never thought I would achieve something like this. The most important thing is to have no regrets.
Live life with your heart and soul ...
When I'm singing and strongly identifying with the anthem, I feel grateful for my life and the gifts bestowed upon me. I have been a happy and healthy person, and a person with the ability and honour to represent their country for many years.
The best way to live sport and life in general is to do it with your heart and soul. But you can't do that if you don't have any knowledge of your history and the past. I know a bit of Italian history, the history of my roots. The anthem is a way of showing this to the outside world.