An emotional Gianluigi Buffon apologised to his fellow Italians after failure to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Sweden saw Italy fail to reach next summer’s World Cup.
Buffon, meanwhile, played his last game for the Azzurri, as he previously announced he would retire from international duty after the Russia 2018 campaign.
“I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football,” he said 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.”
The iconic No.1 went on to say that the side were unable to play to their full potential against a tough opponent in Sweden.
“Those who’ve played know how hard these matches are,” he said.
“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.”
Giampiero Ventura’s future will be called into question, as he becomes the first coach to fail to bring Italy to the World Cup since 1958, but Buffon believes that everyone involved must share the blame.
“Blame is shared equally between everyone.
“There can’t be scapegoats. Win together, lose together.”
While struggling to hold back tears, the 39-year-old insisted that the Azzurri will be back sooner rather than later.
“We have pride, strength and we’re stubborn. 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.”