Gianluigi Buffon wants to finish his career at the Olympics, some 24 years after he came to the Atlanta Games and didn’t play a single minute, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. At 42, he would be older than any previous Olympic soccer participant, according to Olympic historians.
If Buffon has any career regrets, one has to be the Olympics.
The legendary Italian goalie, then 18, appeared in line to play at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Until the federation made use of a new rule allowing three players over the age of 23 per team. One of the chosen ones was 29-year-old Gianluca Pagliuca, who was Italy’s No. 1 at the 1994 World Cup. Buffon was still on the team, but he didn’t play a minute in Atlanta behind Pagliuca. Italy bowed out in the group stage.
Buffon said in 2008 that, after what happened in Atlanta, he would not accept a potential invitation to be on the Olympic team as an overage player, taking the place of one of the U23 keepers, according to the newspaper. Only junior players are allowed in Olympic qualifying, with the overage exceptions brought in for the Games.
Italy still must qualify for Tokyo. The top four nations at the European Under-21 Championship later this month earn berths. Italy and San Marino are co-hosts.
Buffon said in May 2018 that he retired from the national team.
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