Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will play his last game for Juventus on Saturday – but is considering some “interesting proposals” to extend his career on the pitch.
The 40-year-old, who was 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.
Buffon did confirm that he will make his 640th and last Serie A appearance when the champions host Hellas Verona but, at a press conference held on Thursday morning, he revealed 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 final match for Juventus and to end this journey with two cups and with the entire Bianconeri world by my side will be very special.
“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.
“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.
“The most exciting proposal for my career off the pitch has come from the president. Next week, after a few days to reflect, I shall make up my mind and follow my best instincts.
“If my future lies off the pitch, it will be necessary to undergo a training course in order to understand the right path to take and what role I could occupy.”
Buffon joined Juve from Parma at the age of 23 in July 2001. He has won nine Serie A titles – a further two were stripped from the club due to the ‘Calciopoli’ scandal – and was among the few players who stuck with the Turin outfit during their season in Serie B a decade ago.
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 is now hanging up his gloves for Italy.
He said: “I can confirm that I’ll be staying away from the national team. There are several young keepers who need to gain experience to grow.”
🇮🇹@gianluigibuffon: saving Italian teams since 1995 💪— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) May 17, 2018
Today he confirmed that Saturday will be his last game at @juventusfcen, so any excuse to remember this #WorldCup Final save for @azzurri from 2006 😅👌 pic.twitter.com/mO0ubkZZM9
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.
“Legends do exist. Approximately 30 per cent of our trophies bear your name. You deserve a huge round of applause.”
Agnelli said former Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny will become Juve’s new number one after spending the current campaign as an understudy to Buffon.