Gianluigi Buffon has no regrets over his “beautiful” decision to swap life at Serie A champions Juventus for that at Ligue 1 title holders Paris Saint-Germain.
At 40 years of age, and after 17 memorable years in Turin, an iconic goalkeeper sought a change of scenery in the summer of 2018.
PSG offered a World Cup winner a new challenge, with Buffon eager to experience life outside of his native Italy before hanging up his gloves.
A fresh start in France has not always run smoothly for an all-time great, but a veteran performer has enjoyed every minute and believes he made the best personal and professional choice.
“For me, it’s been a beautiful experience,” Buffon told PSG’s official website.
“I have spent nine months in a stupendous city, a city that welcomed me with affection and warmth. It has been a great pleasure and I am very happy to have made this choice to come here.”
Buffon added: “I wanted another footballing experience and life experience, that could be enriching for me, and I have to say, today, all the reasons for coming here, for making this choice, have been fulfilled, because I have always been curious to confront myself with different worlds.
“I have always been humble enough to try and learn from different experiences and this has been the case here in Paris.
“I have learnt quite good French which is something I know will help me in the future and make me a better person, more confident in myself. And this has been very important for me.”
While the language barrier has been one obstacle for Buffon to overcome, he has also faced the kind of competition for places in Paris that he was unaccustomed to at Juventus.
He said of his battle with Alphonse Areola for regular minutes: “Yes, we can say this is the first time I’ve experienced this because at Juventus over the last two or three years, normally if I wasn’t injured, the other ‘keeper would only play 10 or 15 matches, and I think that was important because everyone needs to feel that they are an important part of the team.
“This year has definitely been something different, something I wasn’t used to, but something I happily accepted.
“I happily accepted it because I’m a person that loves being a part of the group with the other guys, always trying to convey positivity and conveying positivity means accepting the coach’s choices that can benefit the other players and I think this is a great thing.
“And I have to say that with Alphonse, Sebastien [Cibois] and Thomas [Chesneau], we have created a really great working unit, with friendship and admiration, and I think that is our greatest victory as goalkeepers.”
Buffon has helped PSG to Ligue 1 title glory in his debut season with the club, but the Champions League crown has once again remained elusive for both him and an ambitious outfit.