Andrea Barzagli reflected on the "biggest disappointment of my life" after seemingly confirming his Italy retirement following the Azzurri's shock failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
A goalless draw with Sweden at San Siro saw Gian Piero Ventura's side miss out on a spot in Russia due to a 1-0 defeat on aggregate, and means it will miss out on football's global showpiece for the first time in 60 years.
Legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon consequently confirmed his retirement after the game, and there are conflicting reports about the future of head-coach Ventura, with some suggesting in Italy that the veteran has handed in his resignation.
And Juventus centre-back Barzagli was unable to pin-point what went wrong for four-time World Champion Italy.
"In football terms, it's the biggest disappointment of my life," he told Rai Sport .
"The Italy side gives you unique sensations. It gives you goosebumps, creates friendships between all the Italy fans. It's a real shame to end like this.
"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."
Team-mate Manolo Gabbiadini was equally despondent, but would not disclose what Ventura had said to his squad.
"I don't know what to say. It's an ugly thing that nobody wanted to see," he said.
"The coach said things that remain between us in the locker room."