Gigi Buffon is looking beyond the 136-cap record that he could equal with the Italian national side next week.
The Juventus custodian will draw level with the tally of Fabio Cannavaro if he features against Bulgaria on Friday and the Czech Republic, at the Juventus Stadium, on Tuesday.
“If all goes well, it would be a great achievement,” he stated. “However, it was predictable in a way given that I started with the national team at such a young age.
“It will certainly be nice though, satisfying, because I have been in the national side for 16 beautiful years – in the squad since 1997 and a first choice since 1998.
“Saying that, I’ve also had my injuries which raised doubts which I have been able to overcome.”
World Cup winner Buffon, born in January 1978, made his debut in October 1997 during a World Cup qualifier in Russia.
“There is a sense of honour when you represent your country,” said the custodian who has conceded 109 goals while wearing the Azzurri gloves.
“You understand that with time, with maturity. Every appearance with the national side is not just a game, but something more.”
Buffon obviously can’t stop the sands of time and, after a few errors over recent months, there are question marks over how much longer he can perform for his country.
“There would be no problem if I wasn’t called up or if I was benched. The most important aspect is the team.
“I personally would not turn down a call up. It would be like spitting in the face of good fortune, something that so many people want but only a few have the chance to experience.”
The captain was also inevitably asked for his opinion on speculation that boss Cesare Prandelli will leave the Italy bench after World Cup 2014.
“It’s not a problem because, like at a club, professional relationships can come to an end. It seems that we are all being gripped by an untimely anxiety,” he added.
“With all due respect, we have a World Cup to think about. Our attention needs to be towards that.
“Could Antonio Conte take over? Conte hasn’t said that he is leaving Juventus.
“I didn’t think there could be candidates for the job already, even if it is normal that a Coach at a certain level would aspire to such a job.
“A lot of people would make themselves available for the job and I think a new Coach could be found as quickly as four or five days after the World Cup is over.”
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