We sat down with Roma goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont to learn more about his career in football - from how it all began for him as a goalkeeper to the highlights of a two-decade career that has taken him all over Europe.
Lobont, now 38, started his goalkeeping career with provincial Romanian side Corvinul Hunedoara, going on to represent Rapid Bucharest before making the switch to Ajax in 2000.
Going on to represent Fiorentina along with the national team, in 2009 he joined Roma - signing a new contract in the summer to continue as the club's third-choice goalkeeper.
An invaluable font of experience and goalkeeping knowledge for Wojciech Szczesny and Alisson, we found out more about Lobont's career path.
Who was your idol as a child?
"I always idolised goalkeepers because they were dressed differently to the other players. We didn't have a colour television when I was little, and in the communist period we could only watch the Steaua v Dinamo Bucuresti derby. I was a Dinamo fan, while my dad supported Steaua. The goalkeepers' jerseys had long sleeves and were lighter in colour, with black shorts. Dumitru Moraru was the Dinamo goalie back then, and years later he was my goalkeeping coach with the national team. When I was growing up and playing youth football, my idol was Peter Schmeichel - I loved him!"
Did you play any other sports before becoming a footballer?
"No, it's always been football. I started in my last year of nursery school. I used to play with my father - he was a footballer too and I would always ask him to take shots at me. Sometimes when he scored against me I would go red and start crying. I've always been a goalkeeper, but my dad was a right-sided full-back."
What memories do you have of your debut?
"The first match I played was in the Romanian second division with Corvinul Hunedoara, my local team. The starting goalkeeper just stopping showing up one day, and the coach chose me from the three other keepers. Back then, the goal frames were still made from wood! I conceded two goals in the first 20 minutes, but managed to keep the final scoreline down to 2-1.
"My professional debut proper came for Rapid Bucuresti in an Intertoto Cup match against Polish side Odra Wodzislaw in 1997. I'd only been at the club a week, but the coach came up to me and said: ‘You're playing, lad.' He took the risk to play me with the president there watching on, but just a couple of minutes in one of my team-mates played it back to me and I accidentally picked it straight up! Thankfully we won 4-2 in the end and my career took off from there."
Do you have a favourite match?
"The home match against Holland in the Euro 2008 qualifiers. It was a real slog and the conditions were horrendous but we won 1-0 and took a big step towards qualifying for the finals. Even now, I like to watch the game back whenever I can."
Who's the best player you've ever faced?
"I've been lucky enough to play against loads of top players: [Paolo] Maldini, [Alessandro] Costacurta, [Andriy] Shevchenko... I played against AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-finals in the 2002-03 season. I would have come up against [Francesco] Totti in the second group stage that season too, but I was unavailable for the first match and he missed out in the second. That said, I have faced him at international level. Another great player I came up against was Alessandro Del Piero - I used to really admire him as a player."
And the best player you've lined up alongside?
"[Cristian] Chivu, at Ajax and with the national team. We knew each other like the back of our hands. All it took was a quick look and we'd both know what we needed to do."
What's your favourite stadium?
"Amsterdam Arena. It was incredible to walk out at, an amazing spectacle with a match going on in the middle of it. I remember all the white and red flags waving in time with the pre-match music... it was wonderful. Another great stadium I've played at is De Kuip in Rotterdam. It's a pity what happened when Roma played there a couple of seasons ago. I knew what they were capable of - when I used to play there for Ajax it was always a tense atmosphere."
Who's been the most influential person in your career?
"My father. He's always demanded a lot from me and I thank him for that. I wouldn't have got to where I am today had it not been for him motivating me. All of my coaches have been very important too. I was lucky enough to work with Mircea Lucescu before spending six years at Ajax. I'm now at a big club with a coaching team which is still helping me to learn new things."
What's the best thing about being a football player?
"Being a footballer is the best thing in the world. It's the best job there is! We must thank God for giving us the chance to do this job. It's true that there is a lot of expectation from a very early age, so it's vital that you strike a good balance in life. It's not an easy thing to achieve, but if you work on it you can learn to deal with it all."
Source: As Roma