Sweden cried tears of joy. Italy just cried.
For the first time since 1958, Italy’s men’s soccer team failed to qualify for a World Cup after a 0-0 draw with Sweden in the second leg of their playoff Monday. Sweden won 1-0 on aggregate.
Not only will Italy be onlookers when the World Cup heads to Russia in 2018, but failing to qualify means legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has represented his country for the last time. The 39-year-old confirmed his retirement from international football after the game.
“I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football,” an emotional Buffon said while fighting through tears after the game. “We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There’s regret at finishing like that, not because time passes.
“Those who’ve played know how hard these matches are. We weren’t able to express ourselves at our best. We lacked the composure to score. Play-offs are decided by episodes and they went against us but you can understand that when you’re at fault.”
Buffon led Italy to a 2006 World Cup championship and is among the country’s most cherished athletes.
“We have pride, strength and we’re stubborn,” Buffon added. “We know how to get back up again as we’ve always done. I’m leaving an Italy side that will know how to speak for itself. Hugs to everyone, especially those I’ve shared this wonderful journey with.
“Blame is shared equally between everyone. There can’t be scapegoats. Win together, lose together.”
Monday’s game has sports fans buzzing globally, so here’a a look at some of the more memorable social media reaction.
20 years of service
1 World Cup winners medal
It hurts to see Gigi Buffon leave the international scene like this pic.twitter.com/aEsYVLgFbL
— UNILAD Football (@UNILADFooty) November 13, 2017