Roy Hodgson has hailed the effort and commitment of his England players after they were knocked out of Euro 2012 on penalties at the hands of Italy.
The Three Lions managed to hold out for 120 minutes against an Italian side that dominated much of the game, but they were condemned to more penalty heartache with Alessandro Diamanti converting the winning kick.
However, despite the defeat, Hodgson was keen to stress his pride in the performance of his England players, and the support of the fans who have followed the team across Poland and Ukraine throughout the tournament.
Following the game Hodgson told BBC Sport: "The players really fought hard. The fans appreciated it, they were magnificent throughout, I have never seen such enormous support. With the penalties I was rather hoping that it was our tournament to win one. The practising didn’t help too much.
"The five takers we have are very good ones. We have been doing it in training and Ashley Cole and Ashley Young have been smashing them in on a regular basis. But you can’t reproduce the tired legs, you can’t reproduce the pressure, you can’t reproduce the nervous tension. [The Italians] stood up to it better than we did. Pirlo’s penalty was the perfect example."
In spite of its disappointing exit, Hodgson believes that England can leave the competition filled with pride after exceeding the expectations of many observers.
He added: "I thought the chances were there for both teams, it was just who was going to take them. We started to tire badly and we couldn't manage it. If we had conceded at the end of 90 minutes or in extra-time it would have been less cruel. But I think we can go out with our head held high."