WATCH - Gianluigi Buffon bids farewell to international football in heartbreaking interview after Italy fail to make World Cup
Veteran goalkeeper Gigi Buffon has retired from international football after Italy failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958, declaring: “I am sorry for all of Italian football.”
Italy trailed Sweden 1-0 on aggregate ahead of their second-leg match at the San Siro and over 90 nerve-racking minutes again failed to score against their opponents.
Giampiero Ventura's Azzurri boasted over 75% possession and took no fewer than 26 shots on goal but ultimately failed to book their place at the 2018 Russian World Cup.
After the match, their veteran 39-year-old goalkeeper Buffon confirmed his international retirement and also apologised for his team’s failure.
“I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football,” he said in an emotional post-match interview.
“We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There's regret at finishing like that, not because time passes."
“There is certainly a future for Italian football, as we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet.
“I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Gigio Donnarumma and Mattia Perin. I want to give a hug to Chiello, Barza, Leo and Lele, who I had almost 10 years alongside. I thank the lads who were with us and, although it wasn’t enough, I hope that we gave them something.
“In football you win as a group, you lose as a group, you divide the credit and the blame. The coach is part of this entire group.”