Italy coach Ventura denies resigning

Giampiero Ventura, Italia

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura has denied resigning after his side failed to reach the 2018 World Cup.

Reports in Italy after Monday’s 0-0 draw with Sweden said Ventura had handed in his resignation, but the coach said that he would speak to Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio beforehand.

“I have not resigned, because I haven’t spoken to the president yet,” he said at a press conference. “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.”

Ventura signed an extension to his contract in August that to keep him in the job until 2020, and said he would “have to evaluate an infinity of issues” before deciding whether to continue.

“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.”

Asked whether he would stay on, Ventura said: “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.”

Quizzed about the reasons for Italy’s exit, the veteran coach appeared to blame it on bad luck.

“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.”

“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 added.

“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.”