Wed | Aug 15, 2018

Captain Buffon leaving Juventus but not retiring

Published:Friday | May 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon

TURIN, Italy (AP):

Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon will play his last match for the Italian champions tomorrow and has put off retirement to consider offers to play overseas.

Buffon, who is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of all time, was expected to announce his retirement at a news conference in Turin yesterday.

Instead, while the 40-year-old Buffon says the Serie A match against Hellas Verona tomorrow will be his last for Juventus, he has received "exciting" offers that have changed his mind about hanging up his gloves.

"(On) Saturday, I will play a match, and that is the only thing that's certain," said Buffon, who teared up at the start of the conference after an emotional tribute from Juventus president Andrea Agnelli.

"Until about two weeks ago, I was certain I would stop playing. Now, offers have arrived that are exciting on and off the pitch, and the most important was proposed to me by Agnelli.

"I'll let these three days pass, and then I will make a definitive decision in complete calm and which will be one that calls to my personality and my nature."

Buffon made his debut with Parma in 1995, and has been at Juventus since 2001. He has ruled out moving to another Italian club or dropping down the divisions.

Buffon has been linked with a move to Liverpool, which could offer the former Italy captain the chance to win the Champions League - one of the few trophies missing from his glittering collection, which includes the 2006 World Cup. He has appeared in three Champions League finals and lost them all.

Buffon helped Juventus win a record-extending seventh straight Serie A on Sunday, four days after he led the Bianconeri to a fourth straight Italian Cup trophy.

It was the ninth Serie A title he won with Juventus. Two others were stripped from the club due to the Calciopoli scandal. Also as punishment, Juventus were relegated to Serie B, but Buffon stayed and helped them win the second division and bounce straight back up.

The captain's armband, which Buffon has worn since Alessandro Del Piero's departure in 2012, will be handed to another veteran, defender Giorgio Chiellini. Wojciech Szczesny will become Juve's first-choice goalkeeper from next season.