Johannesburg - Missing out on the 2018 Soccer World Cup has been too much to handle and eventually signalled the end of an era for some world-class players.
They would have loved to bow out graciously after playing their final matches in Russia, but now they won’t have the chance.
Italy’s legendary goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon is one of the biggest names to decide to hang up his international gloves after his country’s failure to book a place in the event.
Miss national team
“It’s a shame my last official game coincided with the failure to qualify for the World Cup,” Buffon said after Italy’s 1-0 loss to Sweden in the play-offs.
Buffon, who turns 40 in January, has served as Italy’s goalkeeper for two decades.
Two other Azzurri stalwarts, Giorgio Chiellini and Daniele De Rossi, also announced their retirement from the national team.
Roma midfielder De Rossi said on the club’s Twitter account that he would miss the national team.
“My adventure ends here,” he said, according to Roma’s English language Twitter account.
“It’s sad to think this was the last time I will wear these colours. But I couldn’t be more proud of the journey, everyone I’ve played alongside".
Dutch winger Arjen Robben also decided to bow out after Netherlands’ failure to make next year’s World Cup.
The 33-year-old made his debut with the national team in 2003 and was a key figure in multiple Dutch successes on the international stage.
Robben was instrumental in Holland’s good run in the 2010 World Cup, during which they lost 1-0 to Spain in the final.
All Whites veteran striker Rory Fallon also announced his retirement from all forms of football following New Zealand’s 2-0 defeat by Peru in the play-offs.
The 35-year-old scored the goal that took New Zealand to the 2010 World Cup when he headed home from close range against Bahrain in Wellington in 2009.
Sadly, he could not reproduce the same results after he was left on the bench in the two games against Peru.