Football

Teary end for Italian great Buffon

This wasn't what the script had demanded.

As tears streamed down Gianluigi Buffon's cheeks, Italy cried along with him.

The Azzurri drew 0-0 with Sweden yesterday morning (Singapore time) to lose 1-0 on aggregate and miss out on the World Cup Finals for the first time in 60 years.

It also ended the charismatic 39-year-old goalkeeper's international career, which began in 1997 and peaked during Italy's 2006 World Cup triumph.

"I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football," an inconsolable Buffon told Italian broadcaster Rai.

"We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There's regret at finishing like that."

His compatriots Andrea Barzagli, 36, and Daniele de Rossi, 34, will also retire from internationals, along with his Juventus teammate Giorgio Chiellini, 33.

"My Barzagli, my de Rossi, my Chiellini... They will leave as well, (Leonardo) Bonucci will continue. I say thanks to everyone, I don't want to steal the spotlight from anyone," said Buffon.

"Sport teaches you to lose and win as a group, and share joy and pain," he added. - WIRE SERVICES

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