It was an abrupt end to a legendary career. A man who presented a wraith figure from the base of the line for his teammates bid adieu to the sports that gave him so much and also got a lot from the man in return. Soaked in tears Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who had announced his retirement from international football after the 2018 World Cup, had to cut short his journey as the Azzurri failed to qualify for the finals for the first time in 60 years.
39-year-old goalkeeper has played 175 matches for the 4 times World Champions and was part of the winning squad in 2006. A 0-0 draw in the last match of his 2 decades long career was enough to send Italy crashing out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals. Sweden won 1-0 in aggregate in the play-offs after a 1-0 victory in the first leg.
“It is upsetting that my last match decided we didn’t qualify for the World Cup,” Buffon said. “I’m sorry. Not for me but for Italy. We blew something that could have meant so much. The only regret is that it ended like this.”- said Buffon.
“The blame is divided equally among all of us. There must be no scapegoats,” he said. “We win together and we lose together.”
Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli also announced their international retirement. Buffon hinted the defender Giorgio Chiellini will join them but insisted the national team’s future is bright. “There’s definitely a future, because we have pride and strength,” he said. “We’re stubborn and hard-headed. After ugly falls we find a way to rise back up. A lot of these kids are talented, including Gianluigi Donnarumma and Mattia Perin. I wish them a lot of luck.”