Buffon quits as Italy suffer World Cup 'apocalypse'

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Buffon quits as Italy suffer World Cup 'apocalypse'

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

The four time winners were beaten by Sweden in their play-off match so talkSPORT.com looks at what the world was like the last time the Azzurri were not at football's biggest event.

Buffon ends his Italy career having compiled 175 caps over two decades, peaking with the 2006 World Cup triumph in Germany.

"I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Gigi Donnarumma and Mattia Perin".

Following the match, an emotional captain Gianluigi Buffon said: "I am not sorry for myself but all of Italian football".

'This is disgusting, the World Cup can't exist without Italy.

"This match mirrors our country which is falling apart", said a disappointed Stefano Martufello as he left the San Siro. I have to evaluate an infinity of things.

Italian fans were struggling to come to terms with the prospect of a World Cup without their national team.

It was 1958 and the World Cup was actually held in Sweden across 22 days in June with the hosts finishing runners-up to Brazil.

Another Rome resident Enrico Doddi summed up the national disappointment, saying: "You can not have a good World Cup without Italy".

Italy's players collapsed onto the pitch in despair as the final whistle went and even veterans such as Giorgio Chiellini were inconsolable.

With Italy searching for a vital goal, television cameras captured a member of Ventura's backroom staff telling De Rossi to warm up. "I just said we were near the end and had to win, so send the strikers to warm up". "I pointed to Insigne too".

Actor, presenter and Italy fan Paolo Ruffini asked: "What the hell are we going to do next summer?"

Failure to qualify has heaped pressure on Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura, with the sport daily Corriere dello Sport calling for him to step down, while the headline in La Gazzetta dello Sport read "Italy, this is the apocalypse".

"It is an intolerable football shame, an indelible stain", the newspaper said.

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