Published:  12:20 AM, 15 November 2017

Sad farewell for Buffon

Sad farewell for Buffon Italy's Ciro Immobile, foreground, and Italy's Andrea Belotti, seated left, react to their team's elimination in the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg football match against Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, November 13. Inset: Italy

It was a tearful farewell for Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon, who had dreamed of bowing out with another record in a stellar career - a sixth World Cup finals appearance.Instead, his career finished not in Russia but with a humiliating World Cup playoff exit against Sweden at Milan's San Siro stadium, as Italy missed out on the finals for the first time in 60 years. The charismatic 39-year-old had solidly represented the Azzurri for the past 20 years, earning a record 175 caps, but this time not even he could lift a second-rate Italy side.

The Azzuri drew 0-0 on Monday to lose 1-0 on aggregate, ending Buffon's brilliant international career which included the 2006 World Cup title. He follows another legendary Italy and Juventus goalkeeper, Dino Zoff, who also departed the international scene after a defeat to Sweden.

"I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football," an inconsolable Buffon told Italian broadcaster Rai.  The defeat represents the end of a generation with Andrea Barzagli, 36, and 34-year-old midfielder Daniele de Rossi, who also lifted the 2006 World Cup, also retiring from internationals, along with Buffon's Juventus team-mate Giorgio Chiellini.

-AFP, Milan

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