Buffon confirms Italy return against Argentina and England

Marco Luzzani
The Juve idol has scotched reports of international retirement and could line up with the Azzurri in Manchester and at Wembley in March

Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon has confirmed he is available for selection in the Azzurri's upcoming friendly clashes against Argentina and England

The Juventus goalkeeper's international future had been in doubt after he experienced the anguish of missing out on the World Cup last year. 

Buffon had cut a disconsolate figure following play-off defeat against Sweden, and was widely believed to be considering retirement from the Azzurri.

But speaking on Monday, he insisted that he was ready to come back in a double-header of friendlies to be played in March. 

"I feel a sense of responsibility at this time of transition for our national team," he said to Italia 1.

"There will be two important friendly matches. I thought about going on holiday with my family, but if the national team needs me I have to answer that I am ready and I can not desert.

"I am doing this for loyalty and responsibility, without thinking about what will be my future. The players who have experience at the moment could be useful against Argentina and England."

Interim coach Luigi Di Biagio had originally declined to call up the legend for the clashes, instead picking Udinese's Simone Scuffet and Alex Meret of Spal in a youthful squad. 

But the former Roma and Inter player subsequently admitted that he would jump at the chance to work with Buffon, who turned 40 at the end of January.

"I had some meetings with the veterans because I understood some of them wanted to quit," Di Biagio told a news conference at the start of a training camp at Coverciano.

"I talked to Buffon to find out if he wanted to continue. It's not fair that his last game should be the one against Sweden. I proposed he should come back for one, two or three games. Gigi will probably be there in March.

"With the other players, without going into detail, I spoke with many of them. [Andrea] Barzagli and [Daniele] De Rossi will not be there, [Giorgio] Chiellini yes.

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"We want to relaunch the team with enthusiasm."

Buffon has been capped a record 175 times by Italy, and has featured at five World Cups — including the Azzurri's successful 2006 campaign. 

Italy will take on Argentina in Manchester on March 23, before travelling to Wembley four days later to face England.