Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will play his last game for Juventus on Saturday – but he admits he is considering some “interesting proposals” to extend his career on the pitch.
The 40-year-old, who has been capped 176 times by Italy, captained Juve to a seventh successive Serie A title and to Coppa Italia glory this season, and was expected to announce his retirement this week.
Former Parma keeper Buffon has confirmed he will make his 640th and last Serie A appearance when the champions host Hellas Verona on Saturday but – at a press conference held on Thursday morning – he confessed that recent offers for him to play on elsewhere have piqued his interest.
🎙 @gianluigibuffon: "Saturday will be my final match for Juventus and to end this journey with two cups and with the president and the entire Bianconeri world by my side, will be very special."— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) May 17, 2018
Speaking to juventus.com, he said: “Saturday will be my last match with Juventus and I do believe it will be the most beautiful thing to end my adventure this way.
“What will I do next? For now I only know that I will play a game on Saturday. Until a few days ago it was certain that I would stop playing. Interesting proposals have now arrived.
“Playing on in Italy? No, don’t talk about that.”
Sitting alongside him, club president Andrea Agnelli said: “Buffon has received many proposals, and he knows that he has my full support whatever choice he makes. I can only say thank you to him.”
At the age of 23 Buffon joined Juve from Parma in July 2001. He has won nine Serie A titles, and a further two were stripped from the club due to the ‘Calciopoli’ scandal.
He was a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006 and led the public soul-searching when the Azzurri failed to qualify for this summer’s tournament in Russia.
Buffon continued: “If I feel as strong as I do at the age of 40, that is all thanks to Juventus and the mentality here.
“My own philosophy is built around that of the club and I shall continue to live my life in that way, as that’s the only way I know to achieve results.
“I’m proud to have played to the best of my ability right up until now, with performances which befit both myself and this club.
“I make this decision in a calm and happy state of mind, which is not to be taken for granted for a sportsperson.”
Agnelli said that Wojciech Szczesny, the former Arsenal keeper, will become Juve’s new number one.
Buffon also took the opportunity to apologise to English referee Michael Oliver following his behaviour during and after Juve’s recent Champions League quarter-final at Real Madrid.
🎙 @gianluigibuffon: "I'm proud to have received many proposals for the future, but it's in my character to launch myself into the next challenge with the utmost dedication."— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) May 17, 2018
The Bianconeri were poised to win at the Bernabeu and progress to the semi-finals until Oliver awarded a late penalty, with Buffon’s furious reaction earning him a red card before Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the spot to send the Spaniards through.
Buffon criticised Oliver publicly after the match, comparing him to a “rubbish bin”, but on Thursday admitted he had been offensive.
“It is obvious that I have transgressed and I am sorry,” he said. “But it was a very special situation. I couldn’t do anything else but say those things and I am sorry to have offended the referee.”