Gianluigi Buffon targets 2026 World Cup as iconic keeper dismisses retirement rumors
Legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon refuses to rule out playing for Italy aged 48 at the World Cup in 2026 – the 20th anniversary of Italy’s triumph in Germany
Gianluigi Buffon believes he can continue playing until he turns 50 and is targeting a shock return to the Italian national team.
The 44-year-old goalkeeper still plays regularly for boyhood club Parma and doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon, despite his advanced age.
Buffon has 18 months left on his existing contract and has appeared in all 21 league games this season. Parma are currently 13th in Serie B, the second tier of Italian football.
The Juventus icon has enjoyed a fabulous career, winning 11 league titles, six Italian Cups, the World Cup and many more trophies.
Buffon won the last of his 176 senior caps for Italy in 2018 but never retired from international duty and would like a recall.
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“If Italy don’t qualify for the World Cup, maybe I’ll play the next ones,” Buffon told La Gazzetta dello Sport via The sun.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to still be fit at 48. Michael Jordan hasn’t ruled out playing until he’s 50 and I understand that. Ultimately, it’s us who speak on the pitch. “
On his future with Parma, Buffon added: “Let’s see how Parma and I finish the season. I feel responsible to represent the people of Parma who give me unconditional love.”
Italy – reigning European champions – have yet to qualify for this year’s World Cup.
Roberto Mancini’s side must beat North Macedonia and Portugal or Turkey to book their place in Qatar. Italy failed to qualify for the last tournament in Russia.
Although the next World Cup is only nine months away, Buffon respects Mancini’s decision not to select him and won’t put pressure on the coach.
“I always used the World Cup as an excuse for people who wondered why I kept going,” Buffon revealed.
“The truth is that I continue because I do things that others don’t. However, the dynamic makes me realize that Qatar is impossible.
“It’s good like that, I have to respect the choices of an intelligent man like Roberto Mancini.”
Speaking in December, Buffon admitted he still dreams of winning the Champions League. The legendary goalkeeper lost the 2003, 2015 and 2017 finals.
“Not winning the Champions League keeps my spirit competitive,” he told TUDN via the Daily mail.
“Maybe if I had won the Champions League, I might have already retired, because I wouldn’t have any important goals to achieve.”
Buffon joined Parma last summer after spending 19 of the previous 20 seasons at Juventus.
“I have a lot of memories, especially the motivation and the hope is to write some more important pages in the history books of this club, and I know I can do that,” he said during of his reinstatement.
“That’s the main reason I came back here, along with the other 999 reasons! I felt such strong emotions, because an emotional response is the only way to keep delivering at this level at my age.
“I knew that Parma would give me something that no other team could, so if I was already sure of my choice, I’m even more convinced now.
“Seeing these places again makes me feel like I’m back home. I need to feel happy, and Parma is a place that loves me the way I love them.”