Salvatore Sirigu has admitted he still has to pinch himself at the prospect of training alongside Gianluigi Buffon when playing for Italy.
The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper described his teammate as a "legend" ahead of the Azzurri’s match with Nigeria at Craven Cottage, a game that Sirigu is expected to start.
“For me to be on the team with Buffon is a great honor,” the goalkeeper told reporters at a pre-match news conference ahead of the friendly. “I never could have imagined that one day I’d be on the training pitch with someone who for me is kind of a legend.
“[Federico] Marchetti and I, we know he is the owner [of the No.1 jersey] and for our part we will always be ready and available to accept our place in the squad with pride.”
Sirigu has earned six caps for Italy, all of them coming under Cesare Prandelli’s tenure. The former Palermo man added that his frequent inclusions in the squad since 2010 are largely thanks to his move away from Serie A.
“Maybe I wouldn’t have developed as much if I had stayed in Italy,” he said. “It surely hasn’t hurt my prospects of gaining international call-ups. It’s not important where you play, but what you do and how you do it with your club, whether in Italy or abroad.”
With Buffon in goal, Italy secured a morale-boosting 1-1 draw against Germany in its last match.
Sirigu will be hoping to go one better than his idol by keeping a cleansheet against the Super Eagles in London, something he has only managed once before in his six Azzurri outings, coming on as a substitute in its 4-0 win over San Marino.