Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon 'confirms retirement from worldwide football'

Nov 14, 2017, 00:40
Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon 'confirms retirement from worldwide football'

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said the national team had failed the country by not qualifying for the World Cup following their 1-0 aggregate defeat to Sweden in the play-off.

Four-time world champions Italy will miss Russian Federation 2018 after Gian Piero Ventura's team failed to score in two legs against Sweden, enabling the Scandinavians to qualify for next summer's tournament with a 1-0 aggregate playoff victory.

It could have been worse for Italy at the quiet San Siro, as Sweden was denied what looked like two clear-cut penalties for handballs, first from Matteo Darmian and then from Andrea Barzagli.

Italy, who are now ranked 15th in the world, had an ordinary qualification campaign, finishing second in their group.

"We must be confident in the return leg, otherwise we have already lost".

"It is really important that we do not end up in a defensive position where we have to defend our goal for 90 minutes, because they are so skilled that they will hurt as sooner or later".

Sweden leads 1-0 from first leg and going through as it stands.

Stephan El Shaarawy and Parolo both went close at the other end before stoppage time as the Azzurri desperately pressed on. The game means a lot for all of us, not only for me.

Marco Verratti is suspended for Monday's game with Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose in a bruising first leg against Sweden in Stockholm.

The last time the Italians failed to qualify for the World Cup was for the 1958 edition, which ironically was held in Sweden.

The Azzurri are one of the most successful teams at the World Cup, lifting the trophy in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006, but now they won't even get the chance to participate in the tournament next summer.

"We are Italy and, if we qualify, I would like to be able to say that we did it by playing football", Ventura said at the pre-match press conference.