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Football: Record-setter Buffon will always heed Azzurri call


Italy goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon has no intention of hanging up his gloves, as long as he is still desired by the Azzurri, he said on Wednesday.

Buffon, 35, is two games away from equalling Fabio Cannavaro's record of 136 appearances for Italy - a landmark the Juventus 'keeper can match in Turin when Italy host the Czech Republic next Tuesday.

The match, the second of two World Cup qualifiers -- Italy will host Bulgaria in Palermo on Friday -- could see Cesare Prandelli's side book their ticket for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

At the football extravaganza next summer, Buffon would likely extend the record. And he hinted he has no intention of retiring just yet.

"For me, playing for and representing my country is something you don't take for granted," Buffon said.

"Not a lot of players are lucky enough to get the opportunity, that's why I could never say I've had enough, it would be like defecting."

Buffon, who began his club career with Parma before moving to Juventus in 2001, is widely regarded as one of the world's top goalkeepers and has been voted Serie A's top 'keeper a record nine times.

A World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, he has also experienced the lows of seeing Juventus losing two league titles (2005, 2006) and being demoted to Serie B for their involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing affair.

Despite the advancing years, his place as Italy's number one has never been questioned.

Number two 'keeper Federico Marchetti of Lazio, who is 30, has played only 10 times for the Azzurri while Paris Saint Germain's Salvatore Sirigu has worn the blue shirt only six times.

Buffon said he will only retire from the international game when he is told he is no longer needed.

"If one day they don't call me up or put me on the subs' bench for the good of the national team, no problem," he added.

"I'm not the president or the owner of the national team, but I won't say my farewells until I am told I'm no longer wanted."