Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says he could still play for Italy again, despite announcing his retirement from international football earlier this month.
Following Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup earlier this month, Buffon was in tears as he came to terms with his “final game” for the Azzurri.
However, the 39-year-old said while collecting his award as the Italian Professional Footballers’ Association (AIC) player of the year on Monday night that he would not be able to turn down the call from his country were it to come again.
“I’ve taken a bit of a break,” he said. “I’ve reached a certain age now.
“I’ve always been a soldier on call for duty for the national team and Juve, so I could never desert them — I’ve always got to be ready. Even when I am 60, if disease struck all goalkeepers then I would be ready because that is how I view the notion of a national team.”
Buffon added that it was a bitter a blow to miss out on the 2018 World Cup, having intended to end his playing career after the tournament in Russia, but he still intends to bow out on a high at club level.
“The amount of disappointment was enormous,” he said. “What happened with the national team is maybe the biggest disappointment of my career, together with a couple of Champions League finals.
“We’ve got to look ahead and end this season in the best way possible, and there are still plenty of objectives to attain.”
Buffon was also named in the Serie A team of the year together with six of his Juve teammates from last season: Leonardo Bonucci, Alex Sandro, Dani Alves, Miralem Pjanic, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala.
“It has been a beautiful year for me,” Juve striker Dybala told his club’s official website. “It didn’t finish the way it did in my dreams, but we had a great league season and great Champions League campaign. I’m delighted to be here and I would like to thank everybody who appreciate my football and voted for me.”
Kalidou Koulibaly, Radja Nainggolan, Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens also made it onto the AIC’s best XI with Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri named the coach of the year.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.