European soccer is losing a loveable superstar.
Legendary Juventus goalkeeper and fan favorite Gianluigi Buffon will indeed retire at the end of the season, according to a number of reports across Europe. Buffon had previously stated publicly that he was “99.9 percent sure that’s how I will go,” but had not confirmed his definite intentions to retire.
The 39-year-old has spent the last 17 seasons at Juventus after moving from Parma, where he started his career. He has 175 caps for the Italian national team, 37 more than anyone else. He serves as captain for both club and country.
Buffon came agonizingly close to winning his first Champions League title last season, reaching the final before his team ultimately fell apart in the second half in a 4-1 loss to Real Madrid. Buffon has reached three Champions League finals, but has never won the competition.
According to the reports, Buffon’s final action will come in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, after which he will hang up his boots. Buffon has won a World Cup in the past, tasting glory with Italy in the 2006 edition.
Buffon won the Best Goalkeeper award at the 2017 FIFA Football Awards on Monday, although the decision was criticized given the list of nominees included struggling Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who was benched, but did not include Manchester United and Spain goalkeeper David De Gea. Buffon previously became the only goalkeeper to ever win the UEFA Footballer of the Year back in 2003.