Buffon: Being a keeper in Italy is the hardest thing in the world

The Juventus shot-stopper thinks the Azzurri have always had a wealth of choice between the sticks and has called for critics to go easy on young players when mistakes are made
Gianluigi Buffon has stressed the difficulty of being a goalkeeper in Italy, labelling it "the hardest thing in the world".

The veteran shot-stopper has been a constant for the Azzurri since his debut in 1997 and, ahead of the Confederations Cup third-place play-off final against Uruguay on Sunday, has picked up 132 caps.

The Juventus No.1 believes that critics dwell on goalkeeping errors more than mistakes in any other area of the pitch and says that it is particularly tough in his homeland.

"In Italy, being a goalkeeper is the hardest thing in the world," Buffon told Globo Esporte, "because criticism that goalkeepers suffer in general here in Italy is always negative.

"If I fail, they speak for four months about that error. But I guess if they talk so much it is because they are not used to seeing me fail."

Buffon believes that young footballers should not be heavily criticised as it is part of the learning process and also dismissed the importance of behaviour off the pitch.

"I think the young player has the right to make mistakes," the 35-year-old said. "It's with such an error that he can mature and become a man.

"A player off the field can do whatever you want, the important thing is that on the field they give their utmost to help the other 10 players."

Cesare Prandelli chose Buffon, Paris Saint-Germain starlet Salvatore Sirigu and Lazio shot-stopper Federico Marchetti to take to the Confederations Cup and the Bianconeri captain thinks that the Azzurri have always had a trio of excellent options between the sticks.

"Italy have always had three of the best goalkeepers in the world, in each selection and each period of football," he added. "It is a constant.

"Now, when I look back and I think of my career, I see that it was really hard to get hold of the No.1 position for around 20 years"