Italy football legend Gianluigi Buffon has opened up about his mental health revealing he once missed a game for Juventus after having a panic attack.

Buffon, who currently plays his football for Paris St Germain, is widely regarded as one the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

A World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, Buffon played 176 times for his country and is the fourth most-capped player of all time.

In a trophy-laden career, he won nine Italian league titles and four cups with Juventus, and won the domestic cup and UEFA Cup with Parma.

But in an interview with Vanity Fair, Buffon reveals he struggled during his early years with the Italian giants Juventus.

"For a few months, everything lost meaning," he said. "It seemed like no-one cared about me, just the footballer I represented.

"It was like everyone was asking about Buffon and nobody about Gigi."

Experience

Buffon says the turning point came, aged 25, when he told Juve's goalkeeping coach he couldn't play in a Serie A match.

"I went to Ivano Bordon, the goalkeeper coach, and told him: 'Ivano, get [goalkeeper Antonio] Chimenti to warm up and play. I'm not feeling up to it.'

"I'd had a panic attack and was in no state to play the match.

"If I had not gone through this experience, that cloud and that turmoil with other people, I may have never have got out of it."

He added: "I've never been afraid to show them or cry, something that happens to me and which I'm not ashamed of at all."

A BACP spokesperson said: “We commend anyone who speaks out about their mental health. It is especially powerful when role models like footballers speak out as it can encourage others to take brave steps towards seeking the therapy they need.

“Seeking help shows real mental strength. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your job is, everyone needs support sometimes and we know that counselling changes lives.

“BACP counsellors and psychotherapists are highly skilled in listening to people and can offer valuable support in helping you make sense of what has happened.”

To find a BACP counsellor or psychotherapist visit our therapist directory.