Gianluigi Buffon has ended his iconic career with the Italian national team after they were unable to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The Azzurri were defeated 1-0 over a two-legged play-off by Sweden, with a scoreless draw on Tuesday morning confirming their shock absence from football’s biggest tournament.
In the wake of the result, a clearly emotional Buffon confirmed that this would mark the end of a two decade long stint between the posts for Italy, although he refused to point fingers at any of his teammates.
“It is upsetting that my last match decided we didn’t qualify for the World Cup,” he told reporters after the match.
“I’m sorry. Not for me but for Italy. We blew something that could have meant so much. The only regret is that it ended like this.
“The blame is divided equally among all of us. There must be no scapegoats,
“We win together and we lose together.”
Fellow veterans Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli also retired from the international stage, yet Buffon says that Italy fans can look forward to a new generation of talent.
“There’s definitely a future, because we have pride and strength,” he said.
“We’re stubborn and hard-headed. After ugly falls we find a way to rise back up. A lot of these kids are talented, including Gianluigi Donnarumma and Mattia Perin. I wish them a lot of luck.”
Gian Piero Ventura seemingly has not resigned from the Azzurri’s helm after the qualification failure, but concedes that reaching Russia was their only priority.
“I apologise for the result but not for the effort and hard work,” added the coach.
“I do realise the result is the most important thing.”