Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura denied that he has already resigned his post after his side failed to reach the 2018 World Cup.
Some reports in Italy said Ventura handed in his resignation after Monday’s goalless draw with Sweden sealed the Azzurri‘s fate, but the coach said he would first speak to federation president Carlo Tavecchio.
“I have not resigned, because I haven’t spoken to the president yet,” he said in his news conference, after initially refusing a television interview. “I’m sorry for being late, but every player I had the privilege of working with, I wanted to salute individually.
“It’s a very heavy result to bear, because I was absolutely convinced — and tonight’s game confirmed it — that we had this ferocious desire to overcome the obstacle. I have been in football for many years and know what it’s like.
“I am proud to have been part of the Azzurri group. I am proud to have worked with great champions and with others who I hope will become champions.
“I am disappointed, because once again tonight I realised what the Nazionale means to the people. I thank the crowd at San Siro, who helped us to the last minute. It was unique and extraordinary. The fact we deserved to qualify is frankly secondary right now.”
In August, Ventura signed a contract extension through 2020, and he said he would “have to evaluate an infinity of issues” before his future was decided.
“We will meet with the federation and discuss it,” he said. “We will speak the way we always have done. There is a rapport with Tavecchio and the entire federation.”
And he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of staying on, adding: “At this moment I don’t feel it is right to discuss that. We’ll see, we’ll discuss the situation and I’ll both speak and listen. Whatever is borne from that meeting will be accepted.”
Ventura was reluctant to identify any particular cause for Italy’s failure, though he noted that Sweden’s only goal over the two legs was perhaps fortunate.
“My biggest fault was that until the first leg in Sweden, we were exactly on track with what we expected,” he said. “The fault is that we went out effectively without conceding a goal, as it was a deflection.
“I’ve been in football for many years, so I can accept that dissonance. Any other comments are entirely futile. I cannot say more than I have already said.”
And Ventura stood by his players, who will be the first Italy group to miss the World Cup in 60 years.
“I apologise for the result, yes, but not for the effort and hard work. I do realise that the result is the most important thing,” he said.
“Tonight’s game showed that there was nothing broken in the Nazionale. All I can do now is apologise to the Italians for the result, but that doesn’t affect the professionalism, the hard work or the effort we put into this.”