MANAUS Brazil (Reuters) - Italy goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon will miss their opening World Cup Group D match against England later on Saturday in Manaus because of injury, officials said.
The 36-year-old - one of Italy’s most important players -twisted his ankle in a Friday training session and although coach Cesare Prandelli was confident he would be fit, he did not recover in time for the 6 p.m. ET kickoff.
Buffon will be replaced by Salvatore Sirigu, 27, who has eight caps.
“Italy goalkeeper and captain Buffon has been officially ruled out of England v Italy due to an ankle injury,” the Italian soccer federation said in a tweet.
The federation had earlier denied reports by Italian media that the keeper would miss the match.
Earlier on Saturday, Buffon tweeted a link to social network site Whosay.com to say: ”Life is beautiful and I am still in debt to it. Missing one game or missing another World Cup isn’t going to change that.
“There are a lot of ways to be important even if you aren’t on the field. So, come on Salvatore! Come on magic lads.”
The injury to Buffon, who won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, is a further blow to the Azzurri after fullback Mattia De Sciglio was ruled out of the game with a thigh injury.
Reporting by David Ljunggren and Zoran Milosavljevic; additional reporting by Brian Homewood and Simon Evans; Editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris