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'I am sorry'

Tearful Gianluigi Buffon retires from international duty after Italy fail to qualify for World Cup 2018

Legendary keeper apologises to fans after a 1-0 aggregate defeat to Sweden ends dream of being in Russia next year

Tearful Gianluigi Buffon apologised to Italy fans while announcing his retirement from international duty.

The legendary Italy goalkeeper was hysterical as his country failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.


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Gianluigi Buffon retires from international duty

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Gianluigi Buffon retires from international duty

Covering his eyes with his hands, the icon said: “I’m sorry that my final game coincided with us not qualifying for the World Cup.

“I am not sorry for myself but all of Italian football.

“We failed at something which also means something on a social level.

“There’s regret at finishing like that, not because time passes.


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The Italy keeper apologised to fans after they failed to qualify for the World Cup

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The Italy keeper apologised to fans after they failed to qualify for the World Cup

Gigi Buffon could not hold back the tears

Getty Images
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Gigi Buffon could not hold back the tears

“There is certainly a future for Italian football, as we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet.

“I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Gigi Donnarumma and Mattia Perin.

“I want to give a hug to Chiello, Barza, Leo and Lele, who I had almost ten years alongside.

“I thank the lads who were us and, although it wasn’t enough, I hope that we gave them something.

Gianluigi Buffon hugs Leonardo Bonucci

Getty Images
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Gianluigi Buffon hugs Leonardo Bonucci

“In football you win as a group, you lose as a group, you divide the credit and the blame.

“The coach is part of this entire group.”

Italy manager Gian Piero Ventura – whose tactics were more than questionable – resigned in the immediate aftermath of the debacle.

And fans were calling for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte to return as head coach.

Gianluigi Buffon is consoled by Gian Piero Ventura

AP:Associated Press
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Gianluigi Buffon is consoled by Gian Piero Ventura

Buffon said at the Fifa Best awards last month that he was going to retire at the end of the season.

However, it was unlikely he banked on his international exit coming before Russia 2018.

He said: “The last year has been fantastic for Juventus and me but it wasn’t enough to win in Europe.

“Hopefully this year we can play better and win with the national team and Juventus.

“I would love to finish football with fantastic victories.”

Buffon made 175 appearances for Italy, winning the 2006 World Cup and also finishing runner-up at Euro 2012.