Buffon bows out from Juve
MILAN: Italy’s talismanic goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will play his last match for Juventus after 17 years at the club when they host Verona in Serie A tomorrow.
Yet the 40-year-old, who has won nine Serie A titles with Juventus including the last seven in a row, stopped short of announcing his retirement from the sport in a news conference yesterday.
The 2006 World Cup winner said that until two weeks ago he had been set to retire, but changed his mind after receiving “very interesting” proposals.
“Saturday will be my last game for Juventus. I think it’s the best way to end this wonderful adventure,” said Buffon, who has kept 300 clean sheets in his 655 appearances for the Turin side in all competitions.
“For now, I only know that Saturday I will play a game. Until a few days ago it was certain that I would stop playing. Now there are some very interesting proposals,” he said.
Buffon, who made his professional debut for Parma in 1995 before joining Juve in 2001, had planned to end his career at the 2018 World Cup, which would have been his sixth, but Italy astonishingly failed to qualify for the first time since 1958.
The keeper has remained remarkably loyal to the Turin side, refusing to leave them even after they were relegated to Serie B in 2006 over the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, which also saw them stripped of a further two Serie A titles.
Buffon, who set a fashion trend during his career by becoming one of the first goalkeepers to wear short-sleeved shirts, said he would not consider playing for a lower league team.
“I am certainly not someone who thinks it is right to end my career in the third or fourth level division. I am a competitive animal,” he said.
Juventus won a league and cup double this season, their fourth in a row, but also suffered a bitter Champions League quarter-final exit against Real Madrid, who won with a stoppage-time penalty.
Buffon was sent off for protesting the decision and then launched a furious tirade against referee Michael Oliver and said that Uefa were right to open a disciplinary case against him. - Reuters