Giorgio Chiellini left Juventus supporters on Monday after a 2-2 draw with Lazio.
Chiellini could only watch from the bench as Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic equalized with the game’s last kick to secure a spot in the Europa League for the Rome side in his final home encounter.
Fans yelled “there’s only one captain” when a gigantic graphic portraying his jersey number ‘3’ was shown in the grandstand before the match, and they subsequently showered Chiellini with acclaim once he was replaced in the 18th minute.
The 37-year-old defender had played the whole 120-minute Coppa Italia final loss to Inter Milan on Wednesday before announcing his departure from the Turin giants after 18 years.
The experienced Italian, who is third on Juve’s all-time appearances list after Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon, joined the club from Livorno in 2004 and went on to win nine league titles and five Italian Cups.
“It’s been an emotional day,” Chiellini said, adding that he still feels he can “perform at a high level of football.”
Following his departure from Juventus, he said that he would consider retirement after having previously chosen to retire from international football following next month’s friendly against Argentina at Wembley.
“I’m not sure right now,” he said. “I’ll have to think about it. It’s not a choice that can be taken in a single day.”
When he exited the pitch, he passed the captain’s armband to another player – Paulo Dybala.
The Argentina international, who has been with Juventus since 2015, will depart at the end of the season after the club chose not to extend his contract after a verbal deal reached with the 28-year-old in the fall was rejected earlier this year.
When Dusan Vlahovic headed in the opening in the 10th minute, he performed the Argentine’s “mask” celebration, and when Dybala was withdrawn with 12 minutes left, with the hosts ahead 2-1, he did a tour of the stands and was welcomed by supporters while trying to fight back tears.
When Alvaro Morata doubled Juve’s advantage in the 36th minute, the hosts seemed to be on their way to a straightforward home triumph to honor their two departed heroes.
However, five minutes after the interval, Alex Sandro poked into his own goal, and Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio pressed for a leveler, which arrived in the 95th minute, Milinkovic-Savic blasting past Mattia Perin from a tight angle.
Lazio are fifth in the table, one of two spots in the Europa League, four points ahead of seventh-placed Fiorentina, who were thrashed 4-1 at Sampdoria.
Samp were assured of their top-flight survival on Sunday as Cagliari were defeated 3-1 by title-chasing Inter Milan, putting Marco Giampaolo’s side four points above the relegation zone before the season’s final match.