The Italian icon could have an encore performance lasting until 2020.
Arguably the greatest goalkeeper of all time is having a change of heart in the dying embers of a career that spans over two decades.
After walking off the field in tears and apologizing to Italian kids all across the world on that cold November night in Milan against Sweden, Gianluigi Buffon is heading towards a re-call that would see him likely in goal against England in late March.
While interim head coach Gigi Di Biagio will likely only be in charge for two games, there is a discussion brewing over Buffon’s long term future over the next two years. Nobody wants to see Buffon bow out of world football in the manner he did against Sweden, but the idea of him remaining in goal until the age of 42 would be, well, almost unprecedented.
Also hanging over Buffon is Paolo Maldini’s record of total appearances in the game. The legendary Italian defender played until he was 41.
But critics are already out rallying against a possible route-reversal that would see Buffon command the Azzurri for the next two years. Goal.com Global Head of Features Carlo Garganese Tweeted “it sends a terrible message.”
“Buffon is greatest GK of all time and still one of best now but staying on to play for Italy til 42 sends out a terrible message. Italy needs a revolution in way old dinosaurs run FIGC and lack of fresh ideas. Symbolically Buffon staying on as GK, it’s saying nothing will change.”
Another record the Italy and Juventus captain is painfully close to is Egyptian legend Ahmed Assad’s all time most international appearances record with 184, whereas Buffon has 175 to his name.
Appearing on RAI Italia’s Che Tempo Che Fa program, Gigi said he’s “still undecided.”
“I’ll meet with the Juventus President [Andrea Agnelli] who wants the best for me and, with his and the club’s help, I’m certain we’ll choose the right path.
“I hold many records and I’d be content if the all-time Serie A appearances leader Paolo Maldini remained that way, he’s a friend and a champion.
“After I finally retire will I be a director or a coach? I don’t know. When I do retire I’ll take six months off to think about it and then decide which objective is next,” Buffon concluded.