Gian Piero Ventura insists he has not yet resigned as Italy boss, but strongly hinted that his time as head coach is over after the Azzurri's humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
A goalless draw against Sweden in Milan on Monday consigned Italy to a 1-0 aggregate defeat and means they miss out on football's global showpiece for the first time in 60 years.Reports in Italy suggested Ventura's position was in jeopardy regardless of whether they qualified, and their failure at San Siro immediately led to whispers he had tendered his resignation.
Ventura denied that is the case as he has not yet spoken with FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio, but the veteran boss insinuated the Sweden game was his last in charge."I have not resigned, because I haven't spoken to the president yet," Ventura told a delayed news conference.
"I'm sorry for being late, but every player I had the privilege of working with, I wanted to salute each one individually. It's a very heavy result to bear, because I was absolutely convinced – and tonight's game confirmed it – that we had this ferocious desire to overcome the obstacle. I have been in football for many years and know what it's like."
"I am proud to have been part of the Azzurri group. I am proud to have worked with great champions and with others who I hope will become champions.I am disappointed, because once again tonight I realised what the Nazionale [national team] means to the people. I thank the crowd at San Siro, who helped us to the last minute. It was unique and extraordinary" Added the 69 year old coach.
More surprising was that Ventura failed to deliver his resignation, after Italy missed out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958. "The fact we deserved to qualify is frankly secondary right now. I have to evaluate an infinity of issues. We will meet with the Federation and discuss it. We will speak the way we always have done. There is a rapport with Tavecchio and the entire Federation."
Azzurri legend Gianluigi Buffon, and fellow veterans Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi all stated after the match that they will no longer represent Italy. Ventura expressed his regret that their careers with the national team have ended in such a disappointing manner, and apologised for failing to overturn the first-leg deficit.
"The fact that Buffon, Barzagli and De Rossi are retiring, was something we already knew. The World Cup was at stake, the World Cup for them, but for everyone – including my own World Cup," he added."I am disappointed, but the degree of disappointment I have has been expressed individually to the players."
"My biggest fault was that until the first leg in Sweden, we were exactly on track with what we expected. I apologise for the result, yes, but not for the effort and hard work. I do realise that the result is the most important thing."