Emotional Bosnia & Herzegovina captain Emir Spahic has slammed his country's media for its reaction to the national team's World Cup elimination, claiming that he did not realize he had so many "enemies" in the press.
Safet Susic's side had arrived in Brazil with high hopes of reaching the last 16, having topped its European qualification group. However, after losing their tournament opener to Argentina, the Bosnians bowed out on the back of a controversial 1-0 defeat against Nigeria, with star striker Edin Dzeko having had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.
Spahic admitted that he and his colleagues had not been at their best in either of their first two games but the defender, speaking after Wednesday's 3-1 one over Iran, said that some of the flak they had received was wholly unjustified.
"Criticism is part of our job," the Bayer Leverkusen defender told Goal. "You have it all the time; all your life. And we must accept criticism because we didn't play so well.
"But some other things became a little bit too personal; the criticism was too heavy. And I didn't expect that from my own people but obviously I have a lot of enemies."
Spahic and his colleagues had made history by qualifying for their first major championship but he felt that their remarkable feat was completely overlooked by the country's press.
"For those people (pointing to the Bosnian media in the Arena Fonte Nova mixed zone), history means nothing," he sighed. "I'm hurt by this. But I'm proud because I'm Bosnian. I'm proud because of my people.
"There are a lot of children back home feeling happy today because we won this game and that's a much bigger thing than the criticism of those people [pointing again at the Bosnian press].
"We showed the world what Bosnian football is all about and I'm proud of that fact. They [the Bosnian media] cannot change that. They cannot take that away."