Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is facing three months on the sidelines after undergoing back surgery.
The 32-year-old veteran keeper suffered a herniated disc while representing Italy at the World Cup in South Africa this summer.
He was ruled out of the tournament following the first half of the Azzurri's opening match against Paraguay after sustaining the injury.
Buffon underwent an operation in Turin on Sunday to repair the damage and is likely to miss the first month of the Serie A season.
"I think between six and eight weeks will be needed for Buffon to begin rehabilitation and at least three months for him to return to playing," said Maurizio Fornari, head of neurosurgery at the Galeazzi orthopaedic institute in Milan, who led the operation.
"The surgery went very well and was needed to take the hernia in a less invasive manner in order to free the nerve that was suffering."
Buffon, who missed five months of last season due to injuries, insists he will not try and rush his recovery.
"I have taken a big weight off my shoulders," Buffon told La Repubblica.
"Perhaps I should have done this before considering I had this problem from the beginning of 2008.
"But everything has gone well and this gives me peace of mind and confidence.
"Now I must not be in a hurry to get back, I need to take the necessary time to return without any risk of having a recurrence."
Buffon is adamant he still has more to offer at international level with Italy.
"Considering my role, I think my career is still a long one and without the hernia I would have been able to lengthen it further," he said.
"My future with the national team? I believe I deserve my place."
Buffon will succeed Fabio Cannavaro as national team captain after the latter retired from international duty following the World Cup.
"For me this is the maximum that any player can aspire to," added Buffon. "It's a responsibility but above all an honour."