We knew this day was coming. For the last two years, Gigi Buffon has said that as long as his body allowed him to do so, then he would be taking part in the 2018 World Cup. And seeing as he turns 38 years old later this week, it's not exactly like Father Time is on San Gigi's side even though he continues to be the best of the best at a position where guys his age are usually backups or already retired.
But the Juventus and Italy captain has finally set a date for when his illustrious and record-breaking career will come to an end. Whenever the Azzzurri do bow out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the same will go for Buffon's time as a professional footballer, he announced on Monday.
Buffon, courtesy of ESPN FC, said the following after he was presented with the Gianni Brera award for Sportsman of the Year: "Am I going to sign a new contract? If we manage to reach the World Cup in 2018 then I'll press on.
"But after that ... I'll bring down the shutters."
We don't have to get into the discussion about how massive a hole there is to fill right now because there's still a good amount of time before Buffon actually does retire. And that's probably a good thing seeing as Juventus now know when they'll need a replacement to try and fill Buffon's massively important shoes, but also it gives us time to prepare for the day we see Buffon finally take off his Puma gloves for the last time.
At the age of 38, Buffon is still the gold standard for goalkeepers. People may freak out about what Manuel Neuer does or some other keeper in their mid- to late-20s, but Buffon is seemingly just as good as he was four, five, six, (fill in the blank here) years ago. His saves are still world-class worthy. His importance to the Juventus squad is still just as important as it was a decade ago. Or maybe it's even more, but that's for you all to argue.
At least there's still two and a half years of calendar time to go before the final time we see Buffon play for Juventus gets here. May there be plenty of saves — but not too many because that means Juve still has a good defense — and a few more trophies raised before that day in Russia actually does arrive.