Roberto Mancini was reeling from the most painful defeat of his managerial career after Thursday’s stunning, last-gasp 1-0 loss to North Macedonia meant they missed out on their second World Cup in a row.

Mancini had become a national hero after leading the Azzurri back from the horrors of failing to reach the 2018 tournament and winning Euro 2020 last summer.

However, performance levels have dropped since those balmy nights and after throwing away automatic qualification in November Italy were dumped out in humiliating fashion in Palermo in a fraught play-off semi-final.

“Just like July was the best thing to happen to me in my career, this is my biggest disappointment... I’m really sad for my players,” Mancini told RAI.

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