NADAL GIVES UP IN LON­DON

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Mid Day - - SPORT - Gary Lineker @GaryLineker: Boris Becker @TheBorisBecker: Lukas Podol­ski @Podol­ski10: FC Bay­ern @FCBay­ernUS: For a #Legend from the #FCBay­ern boys. Buf­fon Ju­ven­tusFC @ju­ven­tus­f­cen: Iker Casil­las @Ik­erCasil­las: Franck Ribery @Franck­Ribery: World Cup Qual­ifi

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

PIC/GETTY IMAGES

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.

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