North Macedonia defeated Italy to dash the European Champions’ hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in a stunning upset.
In an electrifying sporting moment, Aleksandar Trajkovski smashed the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma in the dying seconds of the game.
This left the Italians with very little time left to find an equaliser and as the final whistle blew, so did their hopes of travelling to Qatar.
This incredibly marks the second consecutive occasion the European nation has failed to make it to the world’s most prestigious sporting event. In 2018, they finished second in their group and were knocked out in a playoff by Sweden.
Although their Euros win will slightly soften the blow, the loss has taken a toll on the players. Italian fans berated the players after failing to qualify for successive World Cups. It’s left some of them debating taking a step back from the international game.
Three Italy players consider retirement after failing to secure a place in the 2022 World Cup
As per Football Italia, after the embarrassing defeat on March 26, three of the country’s best players left the training facility and headed back to their clubs. With the next big tournament two years away, it is expected that these footballers will likely step away from the international spotlight.
Lorenzo Isigne left the Italy squad after struggling to gain form all season. The winger has made 54 appearances for his country and scored ten goals in the process. He made a massive impact during the 2020 European Championships. He bagged the final goal in their group game against Turkey.
But his most impressive moment came when he found the winner in the quarter-finals against Belgium. He produced a spectacular run before curling the ball into the net from way outside the box. Ironically the man who assisted him for his finish against Turkey is heading home as well. Ciro Immobile also secured a goal in that game. But he’s generally struggled to fit into Roberto Mancini’s system, and that’s his undoing.
Lastly, after choosing to play for Italy over Brazil, Jorginho looks done. The playmaker made himself a hero at the Euros by scoring the winning penalty against Spain in the semi-finals. The 30-year-old covered the most ground of any player (86.6 km in total) and achieved the second-highest passing rate with a 93% accuracy.
But alas, his days wearing the Italian jersey look over. Despite the shocking circumstances of their potential retirements, all three players helped Italy achieve something very special at the 2020 European Championships.
Featured Image Credit: Getty