By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Sports Writer
Roberto Baggio confirmed Thursday that he has no plans to play professional soccer again, squashing rumors of him coming to the J.League.
"As a player, my career is closed," said Baggio, through an interpreter.
The former Italian international is in Tokyo to promote a collection of stamps celebrating his 203 goals in Italy's Serie A.
Asked about the likelihood of playing or coaching in Japan, Baggio replied that "as a player, my career is closed."
Baggio's last competitive game was the Football for Hope tsunami relief match at Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium earlier this year.
He added, however, that he does not rule out the chance of returning to the game at some stage in the future.
Asked if this includes any wish to coach the Italian national team, the 38-year-old commented that to take on such a job without experience, as Marco Van Basten and Jurgen Klinsmann recently did with the Netherlands and Germany respectively, is something that must be considered in great detail.
On next year's World Cup in Germany, Baggio feels that "Brazil is still the favorite. They showed great strength in the Confederations Cup."
He believes that the Brazilians have a good squad of strong, young players and that, as always, they will be a threat.
Baggio still looks very healthy and the "Divine Ponytail" is still sporting his trademark hair style.
He revealed that the ponytail had been the focus of unwanted attention and that former teammates would sometimes try to cut it off in the middle of the night.