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The versatile centre-back is proud of how many great defenders the country has produced, while the Azzurri goalkeeper reveals that all the heroes from his youth were strikers

EXCLUSIVE
By Federico Casotti

Giorgio Chiellini has voiced his admiration for former Italy internationals Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi.

The Juventus star argues that his country boasts a "different mentality" that helps to produce great defenders, something which he feels should be celebrated.

"When I was young my idols were definitely Maldini and Baresi," the versatile centre-back told Goal.

"I think defenders have always been one of the best aspects of our football. We have a different mentality.

"I believe that our defenders' toughness should be looked upon with pride and definitely shouldn't be seen as something negative."

Meanwhile, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon revealed that he idolised strikers when he was a youngster.

"When I was young my heroes were [Paolo] Rossi for what he did in '82, [Gianluca] Vialli for his performance in the '86 World Cup and [Toto] Schillaci for the in 1990 where he allowed to dream a whole country," the Italy and Juventus captain explained.

"Then, from 1994 onwards, they weren't heroes anymore; instead they became personalities and athletes that I should try to emulate and from which I could try to learn secrets that could help me better myself.

"The memory I have about Italia '90 is an absolutely beautiful one because it was the first World Cup that I lived with a certain awareness.

"When the matches were on, Italy looked as if it was almost frozen, without a single sound coming from outside."


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