It is proving to be the season of legends leaving their treasured sides. After the likes of Iniesta, Wenger, and Yaya Toure, we now have another name to add to the list.
On Thursday, Gianluigi Buffon announced that he will be leaving Juventus at the end of this season. The 40-year-old goalkeeper has been an iconic sight, and hailed repeatedly as one of the best in the world.
His statement read: “Over the next three days, full of emotion, I will, after two or three days of reflection, make a definitive decision. I’ll try to follow whatever calls to my soul and my nature.”
The clash against Verona will be his final game in a 23-year-long career that has seen him play at just two clubs – Parma and Juventus.
“On Saturday I will play a game and that is the only certainty I have. A return to Parma is a romantic childhood dream, but nothing more than that,” he added.
Needless to say, Twitter had its reactions and tributes flowing, which seemed to mark the end of an era of phenomenal talent .
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 17, 2018
🎙 @gianluigibuffon: "I can confirm that I'll be staying away from the national team. There are several young keepers who need to gain experience to grow."
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) May 17, 2018
639 – Gianluigi Buffon has played 639 games in Serie A, more than any other goalkeeper. Myth. pic.twitter.com/9B7BNHOb8g
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) May 17, 2018
He also spoke about his back problems from 2010, resulting from an operation: “That was the turning point for me. The moment when everyone – quite rightly, let’s be fair – thought Buffon was at the end of the road. I found within myself, also thanks to them, the strength to say I want this great career to become a unique one.”
He added: “It meant working hard, suffering, sweating, even improving although I was 32 years old and had won the World Cup. Now eight years later, we have many more trophies and much more satisfaction compared to eight years ago. That was unthinkable back then, even for me.”
Italy being ousted from the World Cup qualifications, coupled with Juventus’s poor Champions League showing this season certainly makes it an apt time for an exit.