Daniele De Rossi, Federico Bernardeschi, Gigi Buffon and Jorginho look back over Italy’s 2018 World Cup exit to Sweden and the infamous clash with Giampiero Ventura.
The Azzurri failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since the 1950s, drawing 0-0 at San Siro after losing the first leg of the play-off 1-0.
In the second half, De Rossi was told to warm up and was caught on camera clearly telling the staff he ought to be putting Lorenzo Insigne on instead.
“The camera moved away, but after that moment, I did resume warming up. It’s not as if I refused to play,” De Rossi told RAI Sport programme Sogno Azzurro.
“At that moment, we were all terrorised of going out, we had to score a goal, we had to win, so putting on a midfielder like me to score was frankly not a great idea…
“Unfortunately, it ended the way it ended and that was my last game for the Nazionale.”
The former Roma midfielder is now part of Roberto Mancini’s Italy staff going into Euro 2020.
Bernardeschi points to tension behind the scenes with coach Ventura and some of his teammates.
“I knew going into that game that we were not ready for a game like that and a situation like that. We didn’t have the right atmosphere in the group, there were some who were more involved than others,” said the Juventus man.
“There wasn’t much cohesion or clarity, it was a murky situation.”
Buffon insists the description of an Italy team tearing itself apart was inaccurate.
“There was no mutiny. Let’s not forget, we are players there to represent a nation, not to represent ourselves or a coach. The coach gives directions, he drives the car, but we are there to give our professionalism and do our best.”
As for Jorginho, he was at the start of his Italy adventure, but has one abiding memory of that night.
“One of the visions I will never forget is Buffon crying on the field, because it was his last game for Italy and it ended like that. That was tough.”