The midfielder praised his team-mates and coach after their extra-time defeat to Germany on Sunday but warned that they are unlikely to get a better chance to win a World CupJavier Mascherano says Argentina made their fans believe again in their World Cup campaign after reaching the final for the first time in 24 years.
The Albiceleste fell short at the last hurdle as they lost out in extra-time to Mario Gotze's 113th-minute goal, but leave with their heads held high after their first appearance in the final since losing to West Germany in 1990.
"In a country like ours, where it's really hard to get people to believe in you, they started to believe in us again, to believe in this team," the midfielder said in the mixed zone after the game. "We represented the country as we should have done and I don't think the defeat means everything is bad.
"I'm very proud. We went toe-to-toe with a team that was supposedly a beast, a team that only had to play 45 minutes in their semi-final (after going 5-0 up against Brazil), while we had to play for 120 minutes (against Netherlands). Despite all that, we played really well and we had real chances to win the game."
The 30-year-old admitted he thought his side would win it and warned that Argentina may not have a better chance to claim the World Cup in the coming years.
"I thought it was our day and maybe it should have been," he said. "It will be very difficult for everything to come together like it did for us in this competition.
"I would like to give my eternal thanks [to coach Alejandro Sabella]. He made me and my team-mates believe once again that Argentina could compete."
And team-mate Pablo Zabaleta added: "We are very said and bruised. We did everything we could to reach the glory of winning the World Cup, but it wasn't quite enough and it's difficult to digest."