Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon thanked Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic for saying he would give up his World Cup place after the 40-year-old’s Italy side failed to qualify.
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Buffon, 40, had made plans to retire from football after becoming the first player to play in six World Cups, but heartbreak struck as the Azzurri were knocked out at the qualification playoff stage by Sweden, meaning they wouldn’t be in Russia.
It is the first time the Azzurri have missed out since 1958, and when pictures of Buffon crying after the game went viral, Rakitic, like everyone else, couldn’t help but feel his pain.
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“I would give up my place in the World Cup for him; when you see him crying, you want to cry too. A player like him cannot say goodbye like that”, he was reported to have said by Goal.
His Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba also expressed his sympathy, and Buffon took to Twitter the day before facing the Blaugrana in the Champions League.
A 0-0 draw keeps Buffon’s dream of finally lifting the one club trophy he hasn’t yet before he hangs up his gloves for good.