Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon reacts during the World Cup 2018 qualification match against Sweden, November 13, 2017
Milan (AFP) - Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon confirmed Monday he was ending his international career after the four-time champions failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.
Buffon, 39, played his 175th and final game for Italy as they were beaten 1-0 on aggregate in a play-off by Sweden after a 0-0 second-leg draw at the San Siro, bringing an end to a 20-year international career that included winning the 2006 World Cup.
“I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football,” Buffon told Italian broadcaster Rai.
“We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There’s regret at finishing like that, not because time passes.”
Andrea Barzagli and 34-year-old midfielder Daniele de Rossi, the other two members of Italy’s squad on Monday who lifted the 2006 World Cup, also retired from internationals in the aftermath of the shock defeat.
“It’s the biggest disappointment of my life from a sporting point of view… I can’t find my words,” said 36-year-old defender Barzagli.
Midfielder De Rossi, who won 117 caps, said: “To think that I took off this jersey for the last time, it hurts. After the match, there was a funeral-like atmosphere.”
Buffon made his debut for the Azzurri as a 19-year-old in a 1998 World Cup play-off victory over Russia, but his last match saw him fail in his bid to become the first man to play in six World Cups.
The Juventus captain, who has already said he will likely retire from all football at the end of this season, said Italy fans still have plenty to look forward to, with AC Milan’s 18-year-old keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma set to take the international number one shirt.
“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,” he added.
“I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Gigio Donnarumma and (Genoa keeper) Mattia Perin.”