Buffon opens up about battle with depression

The Juventus goalkeeper revealed how he overcame severe depression in his mid-20s in an open letter penned to his younger self for The Player's Tribune.

Buffon opens up about battle with depression
Erwin Scheriau/dpa Erwin Scheriau/dpa

Juventus' veteran goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, has looked back on his long footballing career in “an open letter to my younger self", in which he reveals details about his battle with depression in his mid-twenties. 

In the letter published by The Player’s Tribune, the 41-year-old confessed that the pressure and monotony of daily life as a footballer caused him to suffer severe depression when he was 26 – a situation, he says, he managed to overcome by gaining an appreciation for art and finding “inspiration in things outside of football”.

“If you live your life in a nihilistic way, thinking only about football, your soul will start to wither. Eventually, you will become so depressed that you won’t even want to leave your bed,” said the Juventus keeper, addressing his 17-year-old self, the age at which he began his professional career.

“You can laugh if you want, but this will happen to you. It will happen at the height of your career, when you have everything a man could ever want in life. You will be 26 years old. The keeper of Juventus and the Italian national team. You will have money and respect. People will even call you Superman.”

Buffon with the World Cup in 2006.

Buffon battle with depression

Buffon also warns his younger self how the footballing profession can "can turn you into a robot" because of the repetitive nature of the daily routine. He goes on to explain that a trip to a museum one day to break up his routine during the depths of his depression was a key moment in his life and how art was the “best cure” for his mental issues.

In his long letter, the Italian goalkeeper also advises his younger self about the dangers of success (“You’re no Superhero. You’re a man just like everyone else”) and acknowledges the importance of making mistakes, as a “41-year-old man who has experienced many, many things in life, and has made some mistakes.”

“But these mistakes are important, because they remind you that you’re human They will remind you, again and again, that you don’t know shit, my friend,” he explains.

“This is good, because football will do an excellent job of trying to convince you that you are special. But you must remember that you are no different from the bartender or the electrician, who you will be friends with for life.”

Widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Buffon has built an extensive list of honours over his glittering 24-year career, which includes nine Serie A titles, one UEFA Cup medal and the World Cup in 2006, as well as a string of personal accolades.