TEARFUL Gianluigi Buffon apologised to Italy fans while announcing his retirement from international duty.
The legendary Italy keeper spoke as his side failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
Covering his hands with his eyes, the iconic national star who lifted the World Cup in 2006, said: “I’m sorry that my final game coincided with us not qualifying for the World Cup.
“I am 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.
“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.
“I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Gigi Donnarumma and Mattia Perin.
“I want to give a hug to Chiello, Barza, Leo and Lele, who I had almost ten years alongside.
“I thank the lads who were us and, although it wasn’t enough, I hope that we gave them something.
“In football you win as a group, you lose as a group, you divide the credit and the blame.
“The coach is part of this entire group.”
Reports in Italy claimed Italy manager Gian Piero Ventura had resigned following the 1-0 aggregate defeat.
And fans were calling for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte to return as head coach.
Buffon was seen applauding the Sweden anthem as Italy fans booed at the San Siro.
He said at the Fifa Best awards last month that he was going to retire at the end of the season.
However, it was unlikely he banked on his international exit coming before Russia 2018.
He said: “The last year has been fantastic for Juventus and me but it wasn’t enough to win in Europe.
“Hopefully this year we can play better and win with the national team and Juventus.
“I would love to finish football with fantastic victories.”
Buffon made 175 appearances for Italy and was also a runner-up in the 2012 Euros.