It’s been a few days but we’re still struggling to comprehend a World Cup without the Italians.
The Azzurri are set to miss the prestigious tournament for the first time since 1958 after a 1-0 loss on aggregate to Sweden.
The second leg at the San Siro was an emotionally charged affair.
An electric atmosphere was present right from the off when the partisan home crowd fiercely booed the Swedish national anthem before the Italian players belted out Il Canto degli Italiani like it’s never been sung before.
The resilient Swedes frustrated their hosts and, with Italy needing desperately needing a goal, Gian Piero Ventura inexplicably called upon the services of Daniele De Rossi rather than Lorenzo Insigne.
The combative midfielder was seen protesting about the tactical decision, allegedly yelling: “Why the hell should I go on? We don’t need to draw here, we need to win!”
A 0-0 draw on the night meant heartbreak for De Rossi and company.
The Roma legend joined Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini in announcing his retirement from international football.
Even in the mire of one of his career’s lowest moments, De Rossi exhibited his class.
The 34-year-old visited Sweden’s team bus after the final whistle to congratulate them on their win and to wish them luck in Russia.
He is also said to have apologised for the booing of their anthem.
Leeds centre-back Pontus Jansson told the Expressen: “He apologised for how some of the players behaved during the match in Stockholm and because some fans booed our national anthem during the return.”
“The whole atmosphere of the bus was like: ‘Wow, did this happen?’ It was one of the finest moments in a long time, actually.
“What a damn gentleman. A really nice person and a true team captain”
Daniele De Rossi, you are a credit to your country.
True legends are found in defeat, not victory.