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Pirlo calls on hot-headed Buffon for testimonial

English referee Michael Oliver (C) shows a read card to Juventus’ Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during a Champions League match on April 11, 2018 © AFP/File / CURTO DE LA TORRE

MILAN, Italy, Apr 12 – Former Italy star Andrea Pirlo on Thursday defended Gianluigi Buffon for his Champions League outburst as he named the veteran goalkeeper among his lineup for his testimonial on May 21.

“If I’d been on the pitch, it would have burned to go out like that,” said Pirlo, “when you play a game like that and then lose the chance to play for it ten seconds from the end, it makes you crazy.”

Juventus beat Real Madrid 3-1 on Wednesday night, but were eliminated 4-3 on aggregate in the quarter-final after English referee Michael Oliver awarded the Spaniards a hotly contested 97th-minute penalty which Cristiano Ronaldo converted.

Pirlo — a former Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan midfielder — called time on his illustrious career last November after winning the 2006 World Cup, two Champions League titles and six Serie A trophies.

And he presented details of his farewell game ‘La Notte del Maestro’ (The Night of the Master) which will take place next month at the San Siro and will include some 2006 World Cup winners such as Buffon, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero.

“A hot-head Buffon would have exaggerated talk about crimes against sporting humanity but it must be understood,” said Pirlo.

“It was his last game in the Champions League and he hoped to win it. A penalty so doubtful after having played a match like this at the Bernabeu makes the nerves jump.

“The penalty? You can give and not give, personally I would have avoided it ten seconds from the end.”

Pirlo — capped 116 times for Italy during a 13-year career until 2015 — played his final two years with New York City FC.

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His farewell game will take place at San Siro where he spent the bulk of his career with Inter Milan (1998-20011) and then AC Milan (2001-2011).

He played for Juventus for four years until 2015.

“I chose May 21 because 21 is my number and I made my debut in May,” explained Pirlo, adding that all gate receipts will be donated to charity.

Pirlo said he had never been tempted away from his native northern Italy despite offers from Barcelona.

“There were negotiations over the years, but there was nothing better than Milan and I stayed. Three big clubs, and the one of my city, I’m satisfied.”

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