Italy great Gianluigi Buffon has no plans to call quits on his playing career in the near future, joking “I could retire at 55”.
The veteran goalkeeper made his Parma debut back in 1995, aged 17, and returned to the Stadio Ennio Tardini last year after a season with Paris Saint-Germain either side of two spells with Juventus.
Buffon, who has made a record 176 appearances for the Azzurri, played 26 times for Parma in Serie B in the 2021-22 season as they finished 12th in the Italian second tier.
The 2006 World Cup winner signed a one-year contract extension last season, meaning he will continue playing football past the age of 46 in 2024.
As Buffon prepares for his 28th season as a professional footballer, he suggested he has no desire to hang up his boots just yet.
“I could retire at 55!” he told reporters at a news conference in Ducali on Friday. “I played ten years in Parma in my first life, then twenty years at Juve, one in Paris and now I close the circle again in Emilia.
“And I’m not 100 years old. For ten years I have been thinking about when I will stop, but then I always continue.
“I have had important experiences that have allowed me to know football, but I’m not 100 per cent sure I’ll stay in this world [when I do retire]. Maybe I’ll experience something else.”
Buffon has played alongside some of the finest footballers in the world during his glittering career, in which he has lifted 11 league titles, 14 domestic cups and an unlikely UEFA Cup with Parma in 1999.
The 44-year-old has also finished runner-up in the Champions League on three occasions, and puts Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe among the best players he has featured alongside.
“I can say the five strongest Italians: [Roberto] Baggio, [Francesco] Totti, [Alessandro] Del Piero, [Andrea] Pirlo and [Antonio] Cassano,” he added.
“For foreigners, I would say [Lillian] Thuram, Neymar, Mbappe, CR7 and Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic].”