So, Italy have failed to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1958 after their two-legged defeat to Sweden.
After the Italians lost the first-leg 1-0 on Friday, they knew they needed to win at the San Siro. However, they failed to break down a stubborn Swedish side in the return fixture, drawing 0-0.
While Sweden deserve credit for booking their place at the Russia World Cup, the real story is the fact Italy will be missing out.
And, as a result, a number of players will now be retiring from the national side.
The likes of Giorgio Chiellini (33), Andrea Barzagli (36) and Daniele de Rossi (34) will all likely call time on representing their country after this failed qualification campaign.
But there’s only one man all football fans are talking about - and rightly so.
That’s because legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has now played his final match for Italy with him set to retire from the game in the summer.
The 39-year-old tried his best to help his nation by coming up a few corners in injury-time in the attempt to force the match into extra-time. But neither he, or any of his teammates, could snatch a last-minute equaliser before the referee blew the final whistle.
The Italian players slumped to the floor in utter devastation.
But not Buffon.
The classy ‘keeper - who had previously clapped Sweden’s national anthem whilst the home crowd booed it - didn’t collapse to the ground like the majority of his teammates.
What Joey Barton noticed
Instead, he congratulated the Swedish players immediately after the final whistle. It was something that Joey Barton noticed and he took to Twitter to write: “Wow!! Italy out of the World Cup in Russia. Sweden defended like their lives depended on it. Buffon a class act after the match. No crying. Just congratulated Swedes. Class. Legend.”
Watch: Buffon congratulates Sweden
Take a look:
Barton is spot on, nobody would have blamed Buffon if he had just stormed down the tunnel at full-time. Instead, he decided to congratulate his opponents for qualifying for the World Cup first.
That is why all football fans love Buffon.
The World Cup won’t be the same without him.
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