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Buffon wins Italy’s best player prize

Gianluigi Buffon, veteran goalkeeper of Juventus Turin and Italy's national football team. Reuters/Giorgio Perottino

Italy’s veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has won Serie A’s Best Player of the Year award, a month after announcing his retirement from international football.

The 39-year-old Juventus goalkeeper said he was “happy and proud” to win the prize.

“I never thought I’d get this kind of trophy and I'll hold on tight to it because I never won best youngster,” Buffon said at Monday night's ceremony.

Buffon announced he would quit international football last month, after four-time champions Italy failed to qualify for World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.

While grateful for the prize, Buffon was clearly still rueful after the playoff defeat to Sweden.

“The failure to participate in the World is the biggest disappointment in my career together with some lost Champions League finals,” he said.

Retirement announcements and doubts

Serie A champions Juventus play league leaders Napoli on Friday before a crucial Champions League match at Olympiakos next week.

They need a win to qualify, and Buffon has said he will retire for good at the end of this season the team win the Champions League title.

But the veteran appeared to put the World Cup announcement in doubt, apparently leaving the door open for a future return to the national team.

“I’ve taken a period of rest, I’m getting on, I’ve always been a soldier signed up for the national side and Juventus, so I can’t desert,” he said.

“Even at the age of 60, if there was a dearth of goalkeepers I’d be available, because that’s how I conceive the idea of a nation.”