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.
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