Daniele De Rossi announced his international retirement after Italy failed to reach the World Cup, but also confirmed he urged staff to play Lorenzo Insigne.
The 0-0 draw at San Siro knocked out the Azzurri, unable to overturn the 1-0 first leg defeat in Solna.
“It’s a dark moment for our football, very dark for those of us who were part of this two-year era,” De Rossi told Rai Sport.
“There will be the time to evaluate everything, but I think the only thing I can say now – which is banal – is to build on the spirit the lads showed today and the desire to take part in this adventure.
“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.
“The material is there and we can build for the future.”
De Rossi was spotted on camera shouting at the technical staff who asked him to warm up, urging them to send on Lorenzo Insigne instead.
“We have this tendency to warm up three at a time, then after five minutes we change and another three go. 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 and the Prof is a lovely guy, so I’m sorry if I offended anyone. At the time I just thought perhaps it was better that Insigne come on instead.”