World Cup Qualifiers: Azzurri have failed Italy, says Gianluigi Buffon

Nov 15, 2017, 08:48 IST | Agencies

Distraught veteran goalkeeper Gigi Buffon quits after Italy lose to Sweden in play-offs, failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years

Distraught veteran goalkeeper Gigi Buffon quits after Italy lose to Sweden in play-offs, failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years

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 second-rate 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.

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. 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. Pic/Getty Images

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.

Dejected Italy players after their defeat on Monday night. Pic/AFP
Dejected Italy players after their defeat on Monday night. Pic/AFP

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."

175 No. of caps Buffon has collected for Italy - 39 more than any other Italian footballer
85 No. of wins Buffon has been part of with Italy
68 No. of clean sheets kept by Buffon in his career

Trending video

Go to top