Buffon revisits Italy retirement plans after shocking World Cup failure

Michael J. Chandler 6d ago
Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images Sport / Getty

One of the greatest to ever play the game appears to be calling an end to a decorated international career under the most unwelcome circumstances.

A tearful Gianluigi Buffon reiterated his earlier plan to hang up his Azzurri gloves after Monday's 0-0 draw with Sweden at the San Siro, ending a storied Italy career as the four-time World Cup winner's most capped player.

"We have pride, strength, and we're stubborn. We know how to get back up again as we've always done," Buffon said minutes after the final whistle. "I'm leaving an Italy side that will know how to speak for itself. Hugs to everyone, especially those I've shared this wonderful journey with."

Related: Italy misses out on World Cup for first time since 1958 as Sweden qualifies

"I'm 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," Buffon added.

The reigning FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year was the last person to blame for Italy's shocking defeat over two legs, though the characteristically humble Buffon was quick to share the blame with his fellow fallen Azzurri.

"Blame is shared equally between everyone. There can't be scapegoats. Win together, lose together."

The only shot-stopper to win UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (2003), the 39-year-old Buffon has matched his exploits with club with those for country. Winner of the 2006 World Cup where he was named the tournament's best 'keeper, Buffon calls it a career with 39 more caps than any Italian player, the most appearances in World Cup qualifiers among Italians, and is joint-tops with four others for a quartet of World Cup tournament appearances.