Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after being held to a 0-0 home draw on Monday by a defiant Sweden, which booked a place at next year's finals in Russian Federation with a 1-0 aggregate win.
"Those who've played know how hard these matches are. It's indescribable. We have many heroes tonight".
"It is really very sad because watching the World Cup was something that really brought us together as Italians", said recent graduate Stefania Pusateri, heading for the exit after watching the match in a Rome bar.
Meanwhile it will be the first time the Swedes have qualified since 2006.
The Swedish maverick, and I don't use that term lightly, immediately tweeted in the most Zlatan way ever. We know how to get back up again as we've always done.
Berg had little opportunity to shine in a match dominated by the Italians, with Sweden enjoying just 25 per cent of possession and four shots to Gli Azzurri's 23.
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"We had no weapons left. We just had to sit there and hope that we could hang on", said Sweden coach Jan Andersson.
The Italy players, who along with their 69-year-old coach Gian Piero Ventura, are likely to face long inquests, collapsed onto the pitch in despair at the final whistle and even veterans such as Giorgio Chiellini were inconsolable.
"This is incredible! [Ibrahimovic] stopped playing with Sweden one-and-a-half years ago and we are still here talking about him", Andersson said.
Distraught Italian fans reacted with shock and disbelief while the Italian press called it an "apocalypse" for the team, who last failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup and have played every other edition apart from the inaugural tournament in 1930.
"For my part, this is the biggest thing that has happened to me and for those of us that are older this is probably the last chance to play at a World Cup so to succeed in those circumstances is an unbelievable joy", the 32-year-old said.