Gianluigi Buffon says “I feel like a soldier” at the service of Juventus and Italy but it’s “very probable” he’ll retire at the end of the season.
The legendary goalkeeper turns 40 next month, and plans to finally hang up his gloves at the end of the current season.
“I feel like a soldier at the service of my team and my country,” Buffon said in an interview with Der Spiegel.
“It’s very probably I’ll stop, but I’ll always be at the disposal of Juventus and the national team.
“A man of 40 years has a duty to give space to others, I know better than anyone that I could hinder the growth of others and that’s exactly what I don’t want, but if they need a goalkeeper they can call me.
“I’ll always answer, even if I’m 80!
“I’m disappointed about missing out on the World Cup, I’ll probably regret it for the rest of my life, not least because we robbed the children of a pulse-racing event like the World Cup.
“What really irritates me is that I can’t play in it with some of my teammates with whom I’ve shared the joys of this sport for the past 10 years.
“It would have been nice to share another month of emotions with teammates like [Andrea] Barzagli and [Daniele] De Rossi. But neither that disappointment, nor the one in Cardiff, will chance my judgement of my career. I’m happy with what I’ve done so far.
“Italy have always shown the ability to come back after failures, after the bad World Cup in South Africa we reached the final of the Euros in 2012.
“In 2014 we made another bad impression and the World Cup but two years later we only went out of the Euros to Germany on penalties.
“Our DNA is much the same, we have that fighting spirit but that’s not enough to do well if there’s no talent. What we’ve been missing lately is a player of the highest level.
“Until a few years ago we had players of the talent of [Andrea] Pirlo, [Roberto] Baggio, [Francesco] Totti and [Alessandro] Del Piero…”
Buffon was also asked about Juventus, who he joined for a world record fee from Parma in 2001.
“The secret of Juventus is being a club with values to transmit. That comes from the ownership, i.e from the Agnelli family, and their way of seeing work, life and sport.
“The first few months here were fantastic, in 2001 I arrived from Parma and for the first few months it felt like I was living in another world.
“Everything is done with the utmost professionalism, which ultimately leads everyone to improve.”
Finally, the goalkeeper was asked about German number 1 Manuel Neuer.
“He’s a top-level goalkeeper, even with his feet the way he plays the game is extraordinary and he has excellent reflexes,” Buffon said.
“I’ve been saying for years that he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world, if not the best.”