The veteran goalkeeper is now 43 years of age but, as he prepares to part with the Bianconeri, is not ready to hang up his gloves
Retirement remains an option for Gianluigi Buffon, as he prepares to sever ties with Juventus, but the 43-year-old is up for another “crazy” challenge and is not ruling out a bid to earn a place in Italy’s plans for the 2022 World Cup.
A second stint in Turin is coming to a close for a modern day legend, with no fresh terms about to be signed at the Allianz Stadium.
Buffon has already admitted to receiving offers as he prepares to drop into the free agent pool, and a veteran performer may be tempted to prolong his remarkable career, with various challenges now being weighed up.
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What has been said?
After landing a record-equalling sixth Coppa Italia, with Juve edging out Atalanta in the 2021 final of that competition, Buffon told Rai Sport on his future: “Finishing like this makes me proud and so happy, as I got to share this victorious final with my team-mates and the fans, providing the icing on the cake.
“The fans, the people of Juve, my team-mates and the directors will always be part of my life. The end of this rapport doesn’t end that. I think that I gave a great deal of love, professionalism and courage for the whole Juve world. I am proud of that.
“All things must end. I am 43 years old and at this age you have to make choices that might seem unpopular, strange or even crazy, but I got to 43 like this because that little spark of madness allowed me to set no limits and dream in every moment of my life.
“I am happy when I am able to dream and recharge myself with new horizons, new projects and new challenges. I might not win, but that’s not what interests me. I never played to get trophies, I played in order to go on journeys, to challenge myself. That is the essence of my existence.
“I still need to challenge myself, to journey and to see where the limits of my body, my energy and my essence are. I already said last week, I don’t know what will happen. I could even retire, as I am a happy man, with a family I love.
“However, if there is someone even crazier than me who contacts me and imagines something even more marvellous, I will follow that person, because that’s what life is all about.”
What sort of challenge could appeal to Buffon?
The 2006 World Cup winner has never shied away from a challenge and says he may be tempted to drop down into Serie C and work his way back up to the top before calling time on his playing days.
He added after having that idea floated: “I’d be more than capable of doing that! In my mind, life has to be lived to the last second with enthusiasm, the desire to surprise yourself even more than others. I am someone who asked so much of myself, probably more than people asked of me.
“As long as I have the arrogance or the assumption that I am a good goalkeeper, I will carry on and find something exciting. If I don’t find anything exciting, I could well retire, because I’ve done more or less everything by now.
“To be honest, I had a lot of contacts and I am analysing the proposals I received. The one I consider the most exciting, and when I find someone crazier than me, I’ll follow him. I recently received a message from a director of a club who in terms of ambition, madness and excitement can even beat me.”
Could Buffon still have an international future?
If he is to play on and maintain the standards set to this point, it could be that Buffon puts himself in contention to add to a haul of 176 caps for Italy.
He is ruling nothing out, with there a desire on his part to figure at another global showpiece after seeing the Azzurri surprisingly miss out on World Cup qualification in 2018.
“I still feel strong, so if I find that motivation to try another experience, I will keep going,” Buffon said.
“I feel that I am still a good goalkeeper. I still feel that I am Buffon, so I don’t want any gifts. If someone thinks I am still competitive, that’s great.
“What I want to do is challenge myself. I’d like to reach December 2022 and still feel strong enough to play my part, great, but if they don’t call me, then that’s fine too.”
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