Buffon cites Astori among reasons for Italy return

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Gianluigi Buffon says Davide Astori's death was one of the reasons he wanted to return to international duty with Italy.

Buffon stepped away from Azzurri action after Italy's surprise failure to reach the World Cup, his side losing a play-off against Sweden in November that left the Juventus goalkeeper in tears.

But the 40-year-old is back in the squad named by interim Italy coach Luigi Di Biagio for upcoming friendlies against Argentina and England.

Buffon, who holds the Italian national record of 175 caps, suggested the shock death of Fiorentina captain Astori was among the factors involved in his decision to reverse his retirement.

"I am a coherent and responsible person," Buffon said. "That's enough to explain my presence here.

"I've always been able to unite this squad and I'd like people to see my presence here under this point of view.

"Many youths will thrive, some of them are ready and will have their chance to shine.

"I am here for Astori as well, it's another reason why I wanted to be here."

Buffon's Juventus contract expires at the end of the season but the veteran goalkeeper has hinted he is considering playing on for at least one more season.