Italian keeper Buffon hangs up his gloves after 28 years


ITALY, (Reuters): Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has retired from football, the 45-year-old announced on Wednesday, after 28 years in which he reached exceptional milestones for club and country.

Buffon, who in 2006 lifted the World Cup, won 10 Serie A titles with Juventus and a Ligue 1 title with Paris St Germain.

“That’s all folks! You gave me everything. I gave you everything. We did it together,” Buffon said in a statement.

Buffon is the most capped goalkeeper in history, having played 176 times for Italy.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest keepers of all time, he ended his career where he started, at Parma who are in the Italian second tier, having struggled with injuries in his final season.

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Buffon joined Juve from Parma in 2001 and spent most of his career with the club, except for a season at PSG in 2018-19, before returning to Turin and then to Parma in June 2021.

Kylian Mbappe, who played with Buffon in Paris, paid tribute to the keeper.

“It’s a huge honour for me to have had the chance to rub shoulders with you and cross paths with your legendary career,” Mbappe posted on messaging platform X, previously known as Twitter.

“(You are) a man of gold with invaluable advice that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Buffon began his career in Parma’s youth system in 1991 aged 13, initially playing in midfield before moving to the role of goalkeeper due to his height and physical attributes.

He made his Serie A debut for Parma in a goalless draw against AC Milan in November 1995 at the age of 17.

Buffon, 1.92 metres tall, played a record 657 times in the Italian top flight and was UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 2003.

He retired from international football in 2018 after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“Time has been called on what is simply an exceptional career, an exceptional man and one of the world’s most celebrated players,” Serie A said in a post.

“You’ve been unique. And you always will be. I can’t even find the words to describe what you’ve been, what you taught me, what you gave me. Thanks, my friend,” Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci wrote on Instagram.

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