De Rossi and Barzagli join Buffon in announcing Italy retirement

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The Azzurri veterans confirmed they're stepping aside after seeing their hopes of playing at the 2018 World Cup dashed by Sweden

Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli have joined Gianluigi Buffon in announcing their retirement from international play after Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup.

The Azzurri missed out on Russia 2018 after settling for a 0-0 draw with Sweden in Milan on Monday, as the visitors advanced to the World Cup on the strength of a 1-0 first-leg victory. The stunning setback marked Italy's first failure to qualify for a World Cup since 1958.

Sweden 66/1 to win World Cup

A teary Buffon confirmed his retirement from Italy duty after 175 caps post-game, with fellow 2006 World Cup winners De Rossi and Barzagli soon following suit.

Buffon's Juventus team-mate Barzagli steps away from international play having represented his country 73 times since 2004, including trips to two World Cups, three European Championships and a Confederations Cup.

"In football terms, it's the biggest disappointment of my life," the 36-year-old defender told Rai Sport.

"The Italy side gives you unique sensations. It gives you goosebumps, creates friendships between all the Italy fans. It's a real shame to end like this.

"I don't know what we missed, all I know is we're out of the World Cup, it's a unique disappointment and leaving this group of lads is painful.

"Everyone has their own feelings, but it's really hard to accept right now."

De Rossi, 34, finishes his Italy career with 117 caps and 21 goals since 2004. The Roma midfielder represented Italy at three World Cups, three European Championships and a Confederations Cup.

"We will begin again, just as we did after other desperately disappointing moments," De Rossi said.

"I don't believe we deserved to go out considering the 180 minutes. Sweden deserve credit for their performance, but it was fairly even.

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"Now the next generation is ready to take flight and we must begin again from them. It was almost an absurd moment to associate with a football match. There was a funeral atmosphere in the locker room, yet nobody died.

"I've been wandering around Coverciano and all over the world with this jersey for over a decade, so to take it off for the last time is a strange feeling."

The retirements mark the end of an era for Italy, as the four-time World Cup champions turn the page on a storied generation and look ahead to Euro 2020.

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