Friday, 17 November, 2017

Buffon retires from Italy duty after World Cup failure

Sweden qualify for the World Cup... thoughts immediately turn to Zlatan Ibrahimovic Zlatan Ibrahimovic Had to happen
Noah Ferguson | 14 November, 2017, 20:12

A tearful Gianluigi Buffon quit worldwide football as four-time champions Italy sensationally missed out on their first World Cup finals in 60 years after a playoff defeat to Sweden.

"It is an intolerable football shame, an indelible stain", the newspaper said.

"Not for me, but for the football movement, because we failed at something that could've been truly important for the country".

In all, they have triumphed four times, a tally only exceeded by Brazil, who have won five times.

The final whistle which signalled that Sweden had qualified for the World Cup was still echoing around the San Siro when the speculation began - will retired record goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic return for the finals in Russian Federation? "I have not yet spoken to the president", said Ventura. "I want to see you as you've always been, as what you are for so many - as a legend". Matteo Salvini, head of the anti-immigrant Northern League, looked to score quick political points, blaming Italy's upset on a large number of foreign players in domestic leagues. But in a statement, he still urged that Italian football be totally rebuilt.

Buffon even came up for two corners in a final desperate gamble but Italy fell desperately short, leading to damning headlines in the Italian press.

La Gazzetta dello Sport blamed "opportunities missed" in an article titled: "Italy, this is the apocalypse".

Ibrahimovic has not appeared for Sweden since their group-stage exit at Euro 2016, and played no part in their successful 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. This latest setback showed how far the team has drifted from its peak, belying the widespread expectation that it would have eased past Sweden.

"I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football, because we failed at something which also means something on a social level", said an emotional Buffon as he confirmed his retirement.

Grasping for silver linings, commentators recognised that the current Italian team would not have got very far in Russian Federation. We weren't able to express ourselves at our best.

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