In a shocking turn of events, the four-time world champions — Italy — have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.
A desperate 0-0 draw against a resilient and a much more defiant Sweden ended Italy’s chances to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia.
The Swedes, on the other hand, who only have four players based with teams in Europe’s ‘big five leagues’ will replace Italy in the competition. Sweden are qualifying for the first since 2006 as well.
The last major competitions it missed were the 1984 and 1992 European Championships.
Gigi Buffon, the legendary goalkeeper and a 2006 World Cup winner, spoke a few words following the exit from the competition:
It’s upsetting that my last Italy game coincides with our elimination for the World Cup. That’s my only regret, because time goes by and its cruel but that’s how it is.
Sport teaches you to lose and win as a group and share joy and pain. The coach has the same degree of blame as us.
Following the loss, Daniele De Rossi, who was left on the bench for the game, announced his retirement from the game at the age of 34 and making 117 appearances.
Defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli are also likely to hang up their boots from international football. However, there has been no official confirmation.
“I absolutely apologize for the result but not for the effort we put in or our desire to win,” said Ventura, who has been criticized very highly for his ‘lack of explosive football’ in comparison to predecessor Antonio Conte.
Here are the full highlights of the match: