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Gianluigi Buffon calls Italy a 'funny country' after national team criticism

Gianluigi Buffon calls Italy a 'funny country' after national team criticism
From ESPN - March 22, 2018

MANCHESTER, England -- Gianluigi Buffon said Italy was a "funny country" that "enjoy controversy" after criticism of his selection for two friendlies by new national team boss Luigi Di Biagio.

The 40-year-old goalkeeper initially announced his retirement following Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia this summer.

But the Juventus keeper, who has 175 caps, has returned to the squad and is expected to start Friday's friendly with Argentina at the Etihad Stadium followed by Tuesday's clash with England.

The decision has not been welcomed by everyone with suggestions that he is blocking the path of Milan's 19-year-old keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, but Buffon said he wants to unite the squad after their disastrous qualifying campaign.

"My role in the squad has always been positive and I have always brought people together. I have always put us before me," Buffon told a news conference.

"I am not here to showcase, to show myself off because I can still be useful. I may be 40, but I am the goalkeeper of Juventus.

"Italy is a funny country where people enjoy controversy. Any controversy on my figure is just sensationalism. I have been playing for Italy since 1993, I have won seven medals. After a while all this controversy will just fall away."

Buffon refused to be drawn on when his career will finally come to an end, but insisted his final match will be a normal encounter.

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