No regrets for teary Buffon as Italy exit Euros

Bordeaux (AFP) – Tears rolled down the cheeks of Gianluigi Buffon but the legendary Italy ‘keeper said there were “no regrets” despite the Azzurri missing a golden chance to beat Germany to a Euro 2016 semi-final spot.

“The tears are for my disappointment. It was a magical experience that revived something in all of us and our fans, but it’s come to an end,” an emotional Buffon told media after Germany’s 6-5 penalty shoot-out win in Bordeaux.

After their quarter-final finished 1-1 in regulation time and neither team scored in extra-time, Italy’s bid to put two forgettable World Cup campaigns behind only unravelled at a dramatic penalty shootout.

Italy spurned the chance to clinch their last four spot when Graziano Pelle hit a pitiful effort wide of the post as the Germans misfired.

That, and other misses, proved costly for Italy later on, as the penalty shootout went to a total of 18 kicks.

After Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian saw his shot saved by Manuel Neuer, Jonas Hector stepped up to beat Buffon and send World Cup holders Germany into a semi-final against France or Iceland, who play on Sunday.

“It’s a shame. When a team (Germany) misses three penalties out of five and you still don’t manage to win it becomes complicated,” said Buffon.

“Sometimes it goes your way, other times it doesn’t. But that’s all a big part of sport, and you have to accept it.

“We wanted to leave this tournament without any regrets and that’s what we will do. We made our people proud and for this we can’t be sorry.”

It was Antonio Conte’s last game as coach ahead of his move to Premier League giants Chelsea.

But Juventus goalkeeper Buffon, 38, indicated the defeat would not hasten his international retirement.

“Personally, I’m fine. I still get fired up by these games and I feel that I’ve still got something to give to this squad,” said Buffon, who believes there is also a big future for Italy’s young team.

“I’m happy and proud to have worked alongside this squad. They (Germany) deserved victory more than us, but this game will serve the lads well.”

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