Daniele De Rossi explained that his remonstration with Gian Piero Ventura was in a bid to make the head coach put on extra strikers in Italy's failed bid to reach the 2018 World Cup.
The Roma stalwart, who said he has taken off the Azzurri jersey "for the last time", was spotted on camera showing his frustration apparently at the decision not to send on Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne, despite Italy desperately needing to score with the match goalless against Sweden on Monday.
De Rossi is reported to have said "why the hell should I go on? We don't need to draw here, we need to win!".
Italy eventually slumped to a goalless draw, meaning they lost 1-0 on aggregate and missed out on World Cup qualification for the first time since 1958.
But De Rossi explained that it was nothing personal against Ventura.
"We have this tendency to warm up three at a time, then after five minutes we change and another three go," he told Rai Sport.
"I just said we were near the end and had to win, so send the strikers to warm up. I pointed to Insigne too.
"It wasn't up to me whether it was a tactical issue. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. At the time I just thought perhaps it was better that Insigne come on instead."
On his own future and Italy's failure, he added: "We will begin again, just as we did after other desperately disappointing moments.
"I don't believe we deserved to go out considering the 180 minutes, Sweden deserve credit for their performance, but it was fairly even.
"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 funereal 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."