Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for and captains Serie A club Juventus. He also captained the Italy national team until his international retirement in 2017.
Italy was held to a 0-0 draw in Milan and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
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 the 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, has been hoping to compete in a record sixth World Cup.
But Ventura made no announcement about his position despite failing to lead 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 era of four or five veterans comes to a close, one of the hungry young players coming through begins and that’s how it should be,” said Ventura, who took over from Chelsea coach Antonio Conte in 2016 with a contract until June 2020.
– ‘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.
“I just said we were near the end and had to win, so send the strikers to warm up,” said De Rossi. “I pointed to Insigne too. I just thought perhaps it was better that Insigne come on instead.”
“Italy, this is the apocalypse,” ran a headline on the website of sports daily Gazzetta Dello Sport.
“Wasted chances, a bit of bad luck but zero goals in 180 minutes against the Swedes, who will go to Russia,” Gazzetta commented.
Corriere Dello Sport said it will be painful for the country to be on the sidelines when the World Cup kicks off in Russia in June.
“It is an intolerable football shame, an indelible stain,” the newspaper said.
“It is over. Apocalypse, tragedy, catastrophe.”