MILAN: A tearful Gianluigi Buffon quit international football as four-time champions Italy sensationally missed out on their first World Cup finals in 60 years after a playoff defeat to Sweden on Monday.
Coach Gian Piero Ventura also said he would consider his future after the Azzuri drew 0-0 in the second leg of their tie with Sweden, who qualified 1-0 on aggregate.
Italian press called it an “apocalypse” for the team, who last failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup and have played every other edition apart from the inaugural tournament in 1930.
“I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football, because we failed at something which also means something on a social level,” said an emotional Buffon as he confirmed his retirement.
The 39-year-old goalkeeper, who lifted the 2006 World Cup in Germany, who had been hoping to compete in a record sixth World Cup.
Buffon, who has 175 international caps, had already announced that the World Cup finals in Russia would be his last.
But Ventura made no announcement about his position despite failing to lead the 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 winners to their 19th World Cup.
The former Torino coach said he would first talk to the Italian federation president before making a decision on his future.
‘Intolerable football shame’
Italy dominated possession but struggled to create enough clear-cut chances, as Sweden secured a first appearance at the finals since 2006 courtesy of Jakob Johansson’s first-leg strike in Stockholm.
Ventura had made changes from Friday’s defeat with Brazil-born Jorginho making his Italy debut and Alessandro Florenzi and Manolo Gabbiadini also handed starts, although Napoli’s in-form winger Lorenzo Insigne was again left on the bench.
As the clock ticked down, De Rossi was asked by Ventura to warm up but he pointed at Insigne instead.
Buffon even came up for two corners in a final desperate gamble but Italy fell desperately short, leading to damning headlines in the Italian press.