Buffon retires from Italy duty after World Cup failure

Buffon retires from Italy duty after World Cup failure

But Italy were eliminated from contention for the World Cup with a 0-0 second-leg draw with Sweden on Monday in Milan, as the visitors advanced on aggregate following a 1-0 win in the first leg.

The four-time champions had been present at every World Cup since 1958 - and Buffon himself since 1998 - and the 39-year-old's retirement from worldwide football was made prematurely on Monday night.

It's make or break for the Azzurri tonight as they go into the pivotal qualifier 1-0 down against the Swedes.

Italy, who are now ranked 15th in the world, had an ordinary qualification campaign, finishing second in their group.

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The defeat brought the curtain down on the remarkable worldwide career of 39-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was making his 175th appearance for his country.

A clearly emotional Buffon said: "I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football". "We've failed something which could have been big also on a social level and this is my only disappointment. There's regret at finishing like that, not because time passes", Buffon said after the result.

"We have pride, strength and we're stubborn".

"Credit goes to Buffon for his sincerity through tears, his represent those of us all". I'm leaving an Italy side that will know how to speak for itself.

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The 0-0 draw saw the continuation of an unusual quirk in World Cup qualifying.

The last time Sweden qualified for the finals of the World Cup was in 2006, when the tournament was hosted in Germany.

For Sweden, they will be making a return to the World Cup after missing out in the 2010 and 2014 editions in South Africa and Brazil respectively.

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