Grieving Italians say it was W’Cup ‘apocalypse’
MILAN (AFP) – 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.
“Resign? I don’t know. I have to evaluate an infinity of things. I have not yet spoken to the president,” said Ventura. “It doesn’t depend on me, I’m not in the state of mind to face this question.”
“It’s a very heavy result to bear, because I was absolutely convinced that we had this ferocious desire to overcome the obstacle.
The game at Milan’s San Siro stadium witnessed a generational shift for Italy, with Buffon and fellow 2006 veterans Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi all quitting the team, while Giorgio Chiellini also hung up his Azzurri jersey.