Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon has admitted that he has joined up with the national squad in part to pay tribute to late international team-mate Davide Astori.
The Fiorentina centre-back passed away on March 4 aged only 31, sparking tributes around Italy, including his club pledging to rename their training ground after him.
Buffon, meanwhile, believes that the best way he can honour his late cohort is by turning out for the Azzurri in friendlies against Argentina and England when it was thought he might choose to sit these games under interim boss Luigi Di Biagio out.
“He’s a reason why I’m here. I wanted to be present and respond to this feeling,” the veteran goalkeeper admitted, referring to the former AC Milan and Cagliari man.
Additionally, the 175-time capped international confessed that he felt he might have let his country down if he had not heeded the call, despite uncertainty over his long-term future with the Azzurri as he ponders retirement from the game.
“I’m here because I’ve always been a person who has followed through with what they have said, with a sense of responsibility,” the 40-year-old added.
“These two things are enough, and what’s more, Di Biagio was very nice to me. The young guys have already grown up and will have the space they need.”
Buffon’s career highlight was achieved with the national team when he won the 2006 World Cup, helping his side beat France in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in Berlin.