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17 May 2018, 01:55 | Anna Jefferson
Gianluigi Buffon Announces He Is To Leave Juventus, Also Semi-Apologises For Calling Referee Michael Oliver ‘Garbage Bin Heart’
"I'm convinced that Juventus needs to plan for the future and, as someone who has spent many years as a player and several as club captain, I am the first to understand that", Buffon told a press conference at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.
Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero hopes Gianluigi Buffon will be "saluted by the whole stadium as happened to me".
The 40-year-old goalkeeper has been an iconic sight and hailed repeatedly as one of the best in the world and an era. "Saturday's match is the only thing that is for certain", said Buffon. "Until the end, despite being 40, I performed above my standards".
"Up to 15 days ago my retirement seemed obvious, but some days ago I received some interesting offers in and out of the pitch and the most important of this second group was made by President Agnelli".
"That wasn't a polemical gesture, as some people tried to interpret it, but an act of pure thanks to the people who loved me and who I loved".
His voice trembled as he thanked the Bianconeri for giving him the opportunity to play with them, and wished Giorgio Chiellini the best as he prepares to take over the captain's armband from next season. I am not sure, but certainly the most solid.
Gianluigi Buffon: Announces retirement
"For the national team, I've said that if Buffon became a problem three months ago, I daren't think what I would have become three months, six months, 12 months later", he said. "I think that the national team already has some great young players who need to be given a chance".
"If I decide to continue my on-pitch career, it will boil down to whether I still have the necessary drive and strength". I do not want to end up playing in lower leagues.
"I would say the next week, after some reflections, I will make the ultimate decision".
Buffon's career has nevertheless been more about the highs than the lows and, nearly 23 years since making his debut on November 19, 1995, for Parma against AC Milan, he bows out considered as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
The goalkeeper was named UEFA Best Player in Europe in 2003, and lifted the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006, but will sadly leave the game without a UEFA Champions League medal.
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