A lone first-leg goal for Sweden proved enough for them to progress at Italy’s expense, leaving the four-time World Cup champions, Italy, to miss their first World Cup since 1958, according to a report in Fifa.com
An appearance at Russia 2018 would have seen the 39-year-old equal the record of five World Cups, a mark previously reached by Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal and Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaus. Buffon was also an unused substitute at a sixth World Cup in 1998.
Instead the Juventus icon, who was recently named winner of The Best FIFA Goalkeeper Award, was left to bid an emotional farewell to the international stage after 20 years.
“I’m not sorry for myself but all of the Italian football movement,” said Buffon. “We failed with our aim, which could have also been really important on a social level. This is the only regret that I have, even if my last competitive game coincides with failure to qualify for the World Cup.”
Buffon’s is comfortably Italy’s most-capped player (175 appearances) amid a host of other distinctions achieved since his debut in 1997. He was a key figure in 2006, when Italy won the World Cup for a fourth time.
“We have pride and strength, we’re stubborn and after the tough falls we find the way to get back up again,” Buffon added.
“I leave a national team with good guys and they’ll speak for themselves, [goalkeepers] Gigione Donnarumma and Mattia Perin won’t make me feel regret.
“Sport teaches you to win and lose together, to share the good and the bad.”