Gianluigi Buffon is one of the greatest goalkeepers to have ever taken up gloves and played between the sticks. The Italian legend turned 40 in January and after nearly 200 appearances with the Azzurri and more than 500 with Juventus, everyone is wondering: Is Buffon retiring? It appears so. Probably. Maybe.
Buffon began his professional career in 1995 with Parma, playing 168 times for the club before moving on to Juventus in 2001 for 100 billion lire, then a world-record fee for a goalkeeper (about $63 million). Tasked with replacing Edwin van der Sar, Buffon helped the Old Lady win 10 Serie A titles (though two were later vacated). Buffon won the 2006 World Cup with Italy.
Buffon has talked about retirement for a while now. Last fall he said the only way he would return for another club season would be if Juventus won the Champions League to qualify for the Club World Cup. But the Champions League didn’t go quite as planned.
He had announced he would retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup. When Italy failed to qualify his Azzurri career appeared over, but he returned in March for his 176th cap and record 80th as Italy captain.
So it begs the question: Is Buffon retiring for real after this season?
Yes, it appears Buffon will retire after the 2017-18 season.
Juventus is in a title fight with Napoli and he would love to go out on top. A seventh straight Scudetto would be the perfect way for Buffon to ride off into the sunset after the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup. And the pieces are in place behind him.
Wojciech Szczęsny is waiting in the wings to replace him in goal for the Bianconeri while Gianluigi Donnarumma is the heir apparent for Italy.
So is Buffon retiring? Probably, but in reality no one knows yet, not even Buffon himself. No one will make that decision but him.