Buffon extends career in return to Parma, his first club

PARMA, Italy (AP) — Former Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon rejoined second-division Parma on Thursday more than a quarter century after beginning his legendary career with the team.

Parma posted a playful video on social media of Buffon digging up his old Parma shirt and a Superman outfit in one of the goals at Ennio Tardini stadium.

“I’m back,” Buffon said.

The 43-year-old Buffon recently left Juventus, where he was being used as a reserve to Wojciech Szczęsny.

Parma said Buffon signed a two-year contract — meaning he could play until he’s 45.

“From the first moment I shared the idea of a return to Parma with Gigi, I understood from looking him in the eyes that it was an emotional one for him,” Parma sport director Javier Ribalta said.

“He is committed, he wants to work, he knows this place. Parma is his home,” Ribalta added. “We are proud that we can count on him. Seeing him come back to the club where his incredible career began will be a beautiful thing, and we know there are more pages still to write in his story.”

Buffon first tasted international glory with Parma by helping the team win the UEFA Cup in 1999.

He then was a key player in Italy’s run to the 2006 World Cup title and won numerous titles with Juventus.

Parma was relegated after finishing last in Serie A in its first season under new American ownership.

“We are thrilled to welcome Gigi Buffon home,” Parma president Kyle Krause said. “We are going to bring this legendary club back to its rightful place. Buffon’s return is another validation of that ambition. It’s a really special moment for all of us.”

It won’t mark the first time that Buffon plays in the second division. He helped Juventus to the Serie B title in 2007 after the Bianconeri were relegated for the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.

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