Legendary goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, has said goodbye to the Italian national team following the nation’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The 39-year-old had initially planned to hang up his boots after the tournament, but now that the Azzurri will not be competing next summer, the goalkeeper has brought forward that decision.
Gian Piero Ventura’s side headed into Monday evening’s playoff second leg against Sweden knowing that they needed to overcome a 1-0 deficit from the first contest.
However, the Italians were unable to get on the scoresheet at the San Siro as the Swede’s held on to a goalless draw.
“I’m not sorry for myself but all of the Italian football,” BBC Sport quotes Buffon as saying.
“We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There’s regret at finishing like that, not because time passes. There is certainly a future for Italian football, as we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet.
“I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Giorgio Donnarumma and Mattia Perin. I want to give a hug to Chiello, Barza, Leo and Lele, who I had almost 10 years alongside. I thank the lads who were with us and, although it wasn’t enough, I hope that we gave them something.
“In football, you win as a group, you lose as a group, you divide the credit and the blame. The coach is part of this entire group.”
The Juventus shot-stopper has earned 173 caps for Italy, who have not missed a World Cup in 60 years.