Juventus director Beppe Marotta and Italy coach Cesare Prandelli have hit back at Franz Beckenbauer following his criticism of Gianluigi Buffon.
The Bayern Munich legend claimed the veteran goalkeeper "looked like a pensioner" during a poor performance in the Bianconeri's 2-0 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.
Marotta has since mounted a staunch defence of the World Cup-winning shot-stopper, insisting he deserves more respect from a fellow icon of the game.
Speaking to reporters while attending the quarterly football report at the Italian parliament, Marotta said: "Buffon must be respected. To read such considerations from an icon of world football hurts, especially when they are directed at another athletic symbol such as Gigi. He is a special guy, a role model for young people."
National team coach Prandelli echoed Marotta's comments, and suggested the 67-year-old is in no place to criticise exponents of the modern game.
"Gigi has already responded well, with great balance and irony," said Prandelli. "He will give a great response on the pitch.
"Besides, retirees are always wise people..."