I was born in Carrara on January 28th, 1978, in a family fond of sports. My mother, Maria Stella Masocco, is from Carrara, too. She won the Italian shot put championship three times and currently holds the Italian record for shot put with 15 metres and 43 centimetres. Moreover, she won Italian discus throw championship 17 times. She holds the Italian record for this specialty, too, with 57 metres and 54 centimetres. The interesting fact is, both records were set on the very same day - May 14th, 1972.
My father Adriano was born in Latisana, near Udine. He used to be an "azzurro" shot putter and ranked second at the European Athletics Junior Championships. In total, he was called up to the junior squad for 15 times, and one in the senior one.
After his agonistic career ended, he became a P.E. teacher. In other words, I'm the proud son of two "azzurri".
And my sisters are not less so. Actually, both Guendalina and Veronica practise volleyball. They're older than me but they are from Carrara like me and my mother. They both played in Serie A1 and for the national squad.
Guendalina won a Champions League when playing for Mater. Her husband, Mario Caruso, is a sportsman, too. He is basketball player. This is to say that my whole family has given me enough motivation to practise sports.
In my life I've been practising almost any kind of sport. Anyway, I knew I would become a footballer since I was 6 and used to play with my mates.
When I was child - and a midfielder, as well - Lothar Mattheaus was one of my favourite footballers.
Anyway, my greatest idol was Thomas N'Kono, the great Cameroon's goalkeeper. The whole world got to know him during the 1982 World Cup. Unfortunately, I was far too young to even remember about him. He won my love during Italy 1990 when, in the opening match of the championship, his national squad inflicted a crushing defeat on the current world champions, Argentina, to be only defeated by England in the quarter-final round, where two generous penalty kicks were awarded to the British squad. I cried that night.
At the youth club, Fulgoni has always been my goalkeeping coach; after Polli, Rabitti became my head coach. My story goes on with the Allievi Nazionali (under 16) squad.
The shortlist included great goalkeepers like Bucci, Galli and Nista. However, Nevio Scala promptly proved to have faith in me.
During summer he let me play the last minutes of a friendly match we were winning 4-0, and I made the best of me.
Actually, the fool of me. Anyway, despite being aware I was nothing more than a promising guy, Scala never stopped believing in me. He tried to be my mentor, even outside the field. Parma chairmen made their best not to make me feel too unfamiliar with professionalism.
This is just to say that, as many other professional footballers, I had meanwhile found a sports agent.
And Silvano Martina is still my agent.
When I was 14 he refused to meet me as he considered me too young. Two years later we met during a tournament in Viareggio. We've been together ever since.
At once he gave me a good impression. Could this be related to his being a former Genoa goalkeeper?
My first (and only) agent. The first sponsors.
The very first one was Uhlsport, and then Reusch. Now I'm with Puma, and I'm very happy with that.
I hope the companies that believed in me are satisfied with what I've done. For my part, I have always done my best.
Let's get back to 1995-96 season.
Bucci got hurt during the match against Halmstads for the UEFA Cup. Galli had gone to Lucchese, so the following Sunday Scala made Nista play, yet keeping an eye on me. And then, on November 19th, 1995, something changed. He said I was ready to play.
Goalkeeper coach, Di Palma, had been working a lot to make me improve my technique, so I felt I had improved.
I felt happy rather than thrilled. Such a strange feeling for a 17-year-old guy playing his first cap.
And then, I must say that the situation would be potentially tense even for a skilled player, let alone a boy. My mates were so good. Sensini, Couto, and Apolloni didn't spend much time giving me suggestions. That meant I was ready. With the exception of Stoitchkov, who whispered in my ear some words I have not forgotten, yet. It ended 0-0. I didn't let any goal in. I could not have asked for more. I totaled some more 8 caps during that season. However, I stayed on the bench, as Bucci was the regular goalkeeper.
In the meantime, the first National squad came into my life, too, after completing the whole path in the youth clubs.My debut was on October 29th 1997 during the World Cup qualifications against Russia in Moscow; my coach was Cesare Maldini and it was freezing...I was really excited there, much more than in San Siro against Milan. A few seconds after I entered the field, I made a difficult save and I broke through.
During that summer Ancelotti left Parma; Malesani took over as coach and Paese as goalkeeper trainer.
An extraordinary season, with many strong players who now represented a certainty, not the promising youth of few season earlier.
We won Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup, Supercoppa Italiana.
During the second year with Malesani we were convinced we could rule the world, but we had a huge disappointment and in the end we even lost the playoff match for the fourth position against Inter, which would allow us to be admitted to the Champions League. Adding disappointment to disappointment, due to a fracture of my finger, I also missed the Euro 2000 with the Italian national squad, which then ranked second with Toldo as a goalkeeper.
In 2001, after another season of neglected promises, I understood that some projects had changed and the Tanzi family wanted to start a new era. The time of top purchases and direct competition with the big teams was over: we players needed to acknowledge that. Crespo had already gone to Lazio during the previous year, and Thuram and I did the same during that summer.
Why didn't we manage to win a Scudetto with Parma? I have often wondered this, without finding a suitable answer.
In opposition to what most people say, there was everything needed to win there: an excellent environment, surely very motivating...Perhaps, if we kept trying for some other year - just like Sampdoria did in the '80s and first years of the '90 - the Scudetto would have come.
It's during this season that, for the first time and after a series of top-level matches, I am voted as best goalkeepers in the world in the IFFHS ranking.
It's the year of Capello and our chase of Milan; we manage to win the Scudetto, but we would be stripped of the title... In Champions League, we go out during the quarter-final against Liverpool.
I come back as a regular in January 2006; it's the year of "Calciopoli", the Italian football scandal In any case, we end up at the top of the ranking. It's the year that would see Juventus in Serie B...But it's also the year when Italy wins the World Cup in Germany: a strong desire to start over again and find back freshness, cheerfulness, enthusiasm, spurs and newer motivation
During the new season in Serie A, before the match against Genoa, I am voted as best goalkeeper in the world for fourth year.
In the 2008-2009 season I miss the beginning of the season due to an injury and I come back on the field in January, first during a friendly match against Monaco and then in Coppa Italia against Catania.
In between, I take part in the World Cup in South Africa, where I get injured in the back during the first match; this would prevent me to keep playing in the tournament. Unfortunately, that tournament would be very brief for Italy.
In June 2011 Antonio Conte becomes the team coach and, since the very first moment, I feel positive about the new season, feelings that would become more and more positive after the first match in our new stadium.
season would be full of emotions and would allow me to celebrate the victory in the Serie A championship after a long time and to experience a great adventure with the national squad that would lead us to the European final lost against Spain.
In August, with the "Scudetto" sewn on my chest, I lift a cup as captain for the first time. It's the Supercoppa Italiana, won against Napoli in Beijing. This would mark the beginning of another great season in white-black, during which I would reach 400 caps with Juventus, I would renew my contract with the team for other 2 years, and, above all, we would confirm to be Italian Champions and get to the quarter-finals in Champions League.
The new season - number 13 in white-black - has already begun with a win in Supercoppa against Lazio and with the desire to further improve compared to previous seasons.