Andrea Barzagli marked “the biggest disappointment of my life,” as well as the “end of an era” for Gigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi and Giorgio Chiellini.
The 0-0 draw with Sweden at San Siro means that Italy have failed to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958.
“In football terms, it’s the biggest disappointment of my life. The Italy side gives you unique sensations. It gives you goosebumps, creates friendships between all the Italy fans, they are finally united. It’s a real shame to end like this,” he told Rai Sport.
“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.
“At least at Euro 2016 we were crying because we came so close, but not even qualifying is a heavy blow for my whole career. With Gigi and Daniele we had the adventure in the 2006 World Cup, but also had many adventures with Giorgio.
“It’s immensely disappointing, I hope the younger players can take the situation in hand and do better than us. The era of four or five veterans comes to a close, the one of the hungry young players coming through begins and that’s how it should be.”