NADAL GIVES UP IN LONDON
Gianluigi Buffon called time on his 175-cap international career following the confirmation of Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.
The Juventus goalkeeper kept a clean sheet against Sweden at San Siro but his outfield teammates failed to score the goals that could have overturned the Scandinavians’ 1-0 advantage in the two-legged European play-off.
Buffon had already decided to hang up his national-team gloves after Russia 2018 and, with that opportunity stripped from him seven months before the tournament, he is taking his leave early.
The ‘keeper had solidly represented the Azzurri for the past 20 years but this time not even he could lift a secondrate Italy side. He follows another legendary Italy and Juventus goalkeeper, Dino Zoff, who also departed the international scene after a defeat to Sweden. “I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football,” an inconsolable Buffon told Italian broadcaster Rai. “I’m sorry about the whole affair. We failed at something which also means something on a social level, for the fans. There’s regret at finishing like this.”
The defeat represents the end of a generation with Andrea Barzagli, 36, and midfielder Daniele de Rossi, 34, who also lifted the 2006 World Cup, also retiring from internationals, along with Buffon’s Juventus teammate Giorgio Chiellini. “My Barzagli, my de Rossi, my Chiellini... they will leave as well, I think Leo Bonucci will continue. I say thanks to everyone, I don’t want to steal the spotlight from anyone,” said Buffon.
In tweets from the Vivo Azzurro account, he said: “We are proud, we are strong, we are stubborn. We will pick ourselves up as we have always done.
“I am leaving a squad that will know how to pick itself up again. Best wishes to everybody, and especially to those with whom I have shared this beautiful journey.”
Buffon, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, continued: “The blame is divided equally among all of us. There must be no scapegoats. We win together and we lose together.” No. of wins Buffon has been part of with Italy
TWEET & SOUR
It appears Buffon has played his final game for Italy. He will be missed. A mountain of a man. A Giant of a goalkeeper. A credit to his sport Can’t believe Italy Grazie @gianluigibuffon !!! One of the all time greatest says #Goodbye Grazie #Buffon one of the best on and off the field #Legend All Bianconeri are by your side Buffon. You're the pride of our nation and the best goalkeeper in the world I do not like to see you like this! I see you like what you continue to be for many: a LEGEND. Proud to meet you and proud of having faced you many times. Tough opponent, great character & idol for every player. Respect for your international career @gianluigibuffon
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is reduced to tears as he waves to fans after the 0-0 draw with Sweden on Monday night. Italy lost 0-1 on aggregate.