Legendary Italian goalie, Gianluigi Buffon has announced his retirement from international duty after Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The goalkeeper had previously indicated he will step away from the Azzurri after the tournament in Russia.
But Italy were eliminated from contention for the World Cup with a 0-0 second-leg draw against Sweden on Monday in Milan, as the visitors advanced on aggregate following a 1-0 win in the first leg.
This is the first time the four-time World Cup winners had missed the finals since 1958.
Buffon said he was not disappointed ending his international career, but rather the effect the result will have on Italian football.
He told Rai Sport, “It’s disappointing,” while fighting back tears.
“Not for me, but for the football movement, because we failed at something that could’ve been truly important for the country. That is the only regret I have and certainly not that I am finishing my career, because time passes and it’s only right.
“It’s just a shame my last official game coincided with the failure to qualify for the World Cup. [But] 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’m leaving an Italy side that will know how to speak for itself.”
The 39-year-old Juventus legend ended his Italy career having compiled 175 caps over two decades, peaking with the 2006 World Cup triumph in Germany.
He has represented his country at a record-tying five World Cups, as well as four European Championships and two Confederations Cups.
He added, “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.”
Also announcing their retirements from the Italian national team are Buffon’s World Cup-winning team-mates Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi followed suit by confirming they too were stepping away from the international game.