Scapegoat? Look no further!
As far as Ben Dudley is concerned Italy's players did not let their country down... he did!
Last Updated: 29/06/10 2:20pm
Italy are World Champions no more. The winners of the last World Cup were involved in what will surely be the game of the tournament - but to finish bottom of a group including Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand is an utterly miserable failure. One that will be dissected and mourned for many weeks and months in Italy.
I can only put the blame on myself. Cardiff barely lost a game last season, but every time they did bar one I was there to witness it. Last World Cup I supported Argentina as Italy romped to glory,and having switched my allegiance to the Azzurri, the only reason that can be attributed for the failure is myself.
I fully expect to witness a David Beckham 1998 style backlash in Italy, with effigies of myself being hung from lampposts and set on fire and my face splashed on dartboards all over the country. Italy, I can only apologise.
Apologies are also required for my friend Harriet, who I managed to encourage to watch the World Cup games with the promise "the Italians will be pretty". She became a fan of the Azzurri through their 3 games, and nobody that new to football deserves to witness the carnage of crying beautiful people all over the pitch.
Hopefully next World Cup I am assigned Argentina, as not only do they win, but nearly all of their players are hideous. I am genuinely disappointed with Italy departing the tournament, especially as I had already prepared all my Italy v Holland and Cardiff v Blackpool comparison jokes in advance. Somewhere, Mark Hudson is buying a Slovakian a pint to say thank you.
So both finalists from the last World Cup are gone in the group stages, with both of them finishing bottom. Results like this are the reason my bookie drives around in a Bugatti Veyron, while all I have on my drive is 7 traffic cones and a wet floor sign stolen from McDonalds by a man called Barry.
This World Cup has been hugely unpredictable, and so far looks like being an Americas dominated tournament. Europe is struggling and there is a real chance that the semi finals will take place with no European sides even involved.
What we do know however is that new World Champions will be crowned, and for Italy the journey and the golden generation is over. Fabio Cannavaro has almost certainly won his last cap for Italy and a wonderful career ended with the man pulling his devastated teammates up from the turf in floods of tears.
A leader until the end, the contrast of Fabio lifting the World Cup in Germany and lifting his sobbing teammates in South Africa will be one of the lasting images of the competition.
The future starts here for Italy, with a new manager, a new captain, and surely many new faces will be pulling on the famous blue jersey for Italy by the time we see them at a World Cup again. I am only sorry that my ride on the Italian bandwagon was so short and I have already decided that should Wales not qualify for the next European Championships, I will endeavour to be there supporting Italia.
The same cannot be said for my Italian friend Lidia, who was (jokingly, if anyone from the government is reading) offering her Italian passport for sale on Facebook within minutes of the full time whistle. From me and from Italy, addio Fanzone.