The dust has barely settled on the Italian national team’s disastrous World Cup campaign and the obituaries are still being written. But there is no doubt that Gian Piero Ventura’s spell in charge of the Azzurri will be long remembered as one of the darkest moments in Italian football history.
Not since 1958 had the Azzurri failed to qualify for the sport’s elite competition and, to put things in context, that team was still recovering from the 1949 Superga air disaster involving Torino FC (who had just won four-straight league titles) that robbed them of 10 first-team players. Such was the impact at the time that, as well as missing out in 1958, they also failed to advance beyond the first round of the 1950, 1954, and 1962 World Cup Finals and did not take part in the first edition of the European Championships in 1960. However, there were no such mitigating circumstances for the 2017 debacle.