MILAN – Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon eased some of his World Cup heartache by winning the Serie A Best Player of the Year award at the Gran Gala del Calcio Awards in Milan.
“The failure to participate in the World Cup is the biggest disappointment in my career, together with some (lost) Champions League finals,” said the 39-year-old Juventus goalkeeper at Monday night’s ceremony.
“I’m happy and proud. I never thought I’d get this kind of trophy, and I’ll hold on tight to it because I’ve never won best youngster!”
Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri was named the best coach in the Italian football awards.
Buffon quit international football last month as four-time champions Italy sensationally missed out on their first World Cup finals in 60 years after a playoff defeat to Sweden on Monday.
“Italy-Sweden was the biggest disappointment of my life,” he told Sky Sports Italia.
“But we need to move on, the season must end in the best way, and with Juventus, there are so many goals to be achieved.”
Buffon won a 10th Serie A title with Juventus, as well as a third Italian Cup title and helping the Turin side reach the Champions League final for the second time in three years.
And he left the door open on a future return for the national side.
“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.”
It is the sixth straight year that a Juventus player has won the award as he follows Andrea Pirlo (2012- 14), Carlos Tevez (2015) and Leonardo Bonucci (2016).
Buffon has said he will retire at the end of this season, unless Juventus win the Champions League title.
The Serie A champions play league leaders Napoli on Friday before a crunch Champions League game next week at Olympiakos.