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Italy join France, Argentina in list of shocking FIFA World Cup exits

14 November 2017

Sweden managed to grind out a goalless draw at the San Siro this evening to ensure they reached next summer's major tournament courtesy of a 1-0 aggregate victory.

"For those of us that are older, this is probably the last chance to play at a World Cup, so to succeed in these circumstances is an unbelievable joy".

Italians, who consider a spot in the World Cup finals a virtual birthright, slumped into a collective depression on Tuesday after the national team failed to win a place among football's elite for the first time in 60 years.

Buffon, who was in the Italy squad for the 1998 World Cup, emotionally announced his retirement from worldwide football after the game. The country's national team also won the European Championship in 1968.

"I'm sorry, sorry, sorry", a tearful Buffon told Rai television as he confirmed he was ending his global career.

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Following the match, an emotional captain Gianluigi Buffon said: "I am not sorry for myself but all of Italian football". "That's my only regret, because time goes by and its cruel but that's how it is". "I have not yet spoken to the president", said Ventura.

"I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Gigi Donnarumma and Mattia Perin. I embrace all those who have supported me".

"I haven't resigned because I haven't yet spoken to the (FIGC) president (Carlo Tavecchio)", he told reporters after Italy were held goalless by Sweden and lost their European play-off 0-1 on aggregate to miss next year's Finals in Russian Federation.

Meanwhile it will be the first time the Swedes have qualified since 2006.

"I just said we were near the end and had to win, so send the strikers to warm up", said De Rossi. "This match showed our collective strength".

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"There is certainly a future for Italian football, as we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet. So we adapted and we play in another way now". The closest the hosts came to scoring was a Ciro Immobile effort which was partially stopped by keeper Robin Olsen and cleared away by Victor Lindelof as it was about to trickle over the line.

Gian Piero Ventura's Italy became the first Azzurri side since 1958 to miss out of qualification into the world's most prominent competition.

Brazilian-born midfielder Jorginho was thrust into his first competitive global while Napoli's flamboyant winger Lorenzo Insigne was once again on the bench.

Marco Parolo had a legitimate shout for a penalty kick after just eight minutes when the Italian attacker was contacted in the Swedish penalty area.

Speaking after the game, Barzagli, 36, said it was painful, adding: "I don't know what we missed".

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Italy join France, Argentina in list of shocking FIFA World Cup exits