Giampiero Ventura has refused to resign and apologised to Italy fans “for the result, but not the effort” after failing to reach the World Cup.
The Azzurri failed to overturn a 1-0 first leg defeat to Sweden and crashed out of the 2018 tournament in Russia after a 0-0 draw at San Siro.
“I have not resigned, because I haven’t spoken to the President yet. I’m sorry for being late, but every player I had the privilege of working with, I wanted to salute individually,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“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 means to the people. I thank the crowd at San Siro, who helped us to the last minute. It was unique and extraordinary.
“The fact we deserved to qualify is frankly secondary right now.”
There were reports that Ventura had resigned, but he insisted that was not the case.
“Resignation? 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 (FIGC President Carlo) Tavecchio and the entire Federation.”
This was a sad end to the international careers of Gigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi, while Giorgio Chiellini is also apparently hanging up his Azzurri jersey.
“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,” continued Ventura.
“I am disappointed, but the degree of disappointment I have has been expressed individually to the players.”
The CT was asked where he went wrong in the entire qualifying campaign, but continued to insist Italy would always finish second to Spain in the group and therefore enter the play-offs.
“My biggest fault was that until the first leg in Sweden, we were exactly on track with what we expected. The fault is that we went out effectively without conceding a goal, as it was a deflection. I’ve been in football for many years, so I can accept that dissonance. Any other comments are entirely futile. I cannot say more than I have already said.”
As he is under contract until June 2020, will Ventura continue and build with a new generation?
“At this moment I don’t feel it is right to discuss that. We’ll see, we’ll discuss the situation and I’ll both speak and listen. Whatever is borne from that meeting will be accepted.”
Does Ventura wish to make an apology to the Italian people for missing the first World Cup since 1958?
“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.
“Tonight’s game showed that there was nothing broken in the Nazionale. All I can do now is apologise to the Italians for the result, but that doesn’t affect the professionalism, the hard work or the effort we put into this.”