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Goalkeeping legend Buffon ready to play again for Italy

Juventus’ goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says he is ready to play for Italy in two up-coming friendlies © AFP/File / MARCO BERTORELLO

MILAN, Italy, Feb 27 – Italy goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon confirmed on Tuesday he is ready to come out of international retirement if he is called up for friendlies against England and Argentina.

Buffon called time on his international career after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, losing a two-legged play-off to Sweden to miss the tournament for the first time in 60 years.

But Italy interim national coach Luigi Di Biagio said on Monday he was ready to recall Buffon for friendlies against Argentina and England in Manchester and London on March 23 and 27.

“I had thought about going on holiday for a few days with my family, but when the national team needs you, you must be present and not desert them,” Buffon told Italian programme Tiki Taka.

The 40-year-old Juventus goalkeeper has represented the Azzurri for 20 years, winning the 2006 World Cup title, and earning a record 175 caps in a brilliant career. He had been bidding for a record sixth World Cup appearance.

“There’s nothing to add to Di Biagio’s words other than I feel a sense of responsibility and loyalty which I must give to the national team in this transitional moment,” he continued.

“I repeat, it’s a way of showing loyalty and a sense of responsibility towards Italy. A new national team is being born and the first games are not comfortable ones because we will face Argentina and England.

“I think that any experienced player can be useful at the start, even if it’s just to give advice to the young ones.”

Juventus captain Buffon, who has said he intends to retire as a player at the end of the season, said he will announce his final decision in due course.

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“The only thing I have to do right now is focus on the end of the season,” Buffon continued.

“The thing I can tell you is that I’m sure and I’m very happy with what will be my choice, together with the club, but we’ll announce it when the time comes.

“Right now it’s a point in the season where we have to be very focused.”

Six-time Serie A holders Juventus are second in the league and are also in the running for the Italian Cup, and the Champions League where they play the last 16 second leg against Tottenham in Wembley on March 7.

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