ITALY

Buffon: Italy great announces international retirement

"I'm sorry my last official game for Italy is this failure to reach the World Cup," said an emotional Gianluigi Buffon after play-off defeat to Sweden.

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Buffon: Italy great announces international retirement
MARCO BERTORELLO AFP

Legendary Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon announced his retirement from international football in a tearful interview after the Azzurri's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup on Monday night.

The four-time winners will be absent from the finals for the first time since 1958 after a second-leg goalless draw with Sweden saw the Scandinavians clinch a 1-0 aggregate victory in the countries' qualification play-off tie.

Speaking post-match in Milan, Buffon - who won 175 caps and was part of the team that lifted the 2006 World Cup - said he was sorry "for all of Italian football".

Buffon's interview:

Regret: "I'm not sorry for myself, but for all of Italian football. We have failed in something which is also important on a social level."

Goal-shy: "We knew it would be a difficult game. We lacked the clarity in attack to be able to score goals. When things don't turn out well, it means there are things you've done wrong."

International retirement: "We have [Gianluigi] Donnarumma, [Mattia] Perin and other fantastic goalkeepers. I'm sorry that my last official game for Italy is this failure to reach the World Cup."

Italy coach Gian Pero Ventura: "He bears the same amount of responsibility as we all do for not qualifying for the World Cup. We're all responsible. We win together and we lose together."

Goodbye: "A big hug for everyone, particularly those who have shared this wonderful journey with me."