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‘Letter to My Younger Self’: How Gianluigi Buffon overcame depression

The greatest goalkeeper ever reminisces on some internal struggles while dispensing crucial advice

Juventus v Atalanta BC - Serie A Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

“In the end I believe that the human mind and human consciousness are the most beautiful and most important things that a man has.”

Such begins one of the most impactful interviews with a sports personality that you will ever read or watch. In a spellbinding conversation with the Players’ Tribune couched as a letter to himself, Juventus legend and the greatest goalkeeper to have played the game Gianluigi Buffon talks about his inspiration, and the depression that plagued him pretty much at the peak of his career.

Gigi goes on to say that at the age of about 25-26, basically the 2003-04 season, he first experienced symptoms of depression as he lost all motivation. While it took him some time to sort things out, he learned a number of life lessons that he mentions in the video in the interview.

The 41-year-old also dispenses some important advice to all who have doubted themselves at any point in their lives.

“The only advice I can give is that we, human beings, really have resources in terms of energy, situations of emotions, intelligence and willpower. We have incredible resources that often times we don’t even stimulate and we don’t know we have.

“And it’s clear when you face such difficult challenges, you have to put yourself in a position to say ‘This is a tough challenge and I have to fight’. To overcome the challenge you have to be a fighter, one who knows what it is to suffer and give, what it is to get involved.

“In my opinion many times people are really afraid of putting themselves out there. It also means talking to someone, showing your weaknesses but knowing from that weakness you can become much stronger.

“What I can recommend is to show who you really are. This is the only real cure that first of all makes you accept yourself. I must prove to myself that I deserve the gift of life, because life is a gift that is granted to you and that must be deserved.”

Buffon also talks about the early days, and how he was inspired by Cameroon’s exploits at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, particularly goalkeeper Thomas N’Kono’s star turn in repelling Diego Maradona and Argentina in the opening game of the competition.

You don’t know where Cameroon is. You didn’t even know such a place existed before this moment. Of course, you know Argentina and Maradona, but there is something magical about the players from Cameroon. It’s so hot under the summer sun, but their keeper is still wearing a full suit. Long black pants. Long green shirt with the pink collar. The way he moves, the way he stands tall, the fantastic mustache. He captivates your heart in a way that is unexplainable.

He is the coolest man you have ever seen.

The commentator says his name is Thomas N’Kono.

Then, magic.

There’s a corner for Argentina, and Thomas runs out into the crowd and punches the ball 30 yards in the air. This is the moment that you know what you want to do with your life.

You do not want to be simply a goalkeeper.

You want to be this kind of goalkeeper.

You want to be wild, courageous, free.

The fine folks at Players’ Tribune have done it again, and this interview with Gigi is a must-read, must-watch and a must-bookmark for all who have had their lives touched by ‘Superman’.