JOHANNESBURG - It was not the ending he hoped for but captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst said his Dutch side should be proud of what they had achieved at the World Cup.
The vanquished skipper played his last official game at Soccer City on Sunday, in the biggest match of his career, but ended up limping off to an ignominious end, substituted in extra time as the Netherlands lost 1-0 to Spain in the final.
"To give up a goal four minutes from the end means we were so close but still so far away," said the 35-year-old, who in May announced his impending retirement from the game.
"But I'm glad that I achieved this (playing in a World Cup final) but the disappointment at the way the tournament ended makes it difficult right now. But we can be proud of what we have done.
"If we had scored first it could have been a different ending. You don't get many chances against Spain and it was disappointing not to have scored from at least one of the two chances we had."
Van Bronckhorst, who made his club debut in 1994 and four years later joined Rangers followed by spells at Arsenal and Barcelona before returning to Feyenoord in 2007, went off to barely a cheer 15 minutes from the end of extra time.
"I made a tackle on Iniesta and I felt my left hamstring cramp up and after a while I felt I couldn't run it off and then you have to be substituted."
Van Bronckhorst will now join Feyenoord's technical staff and has also been offered a role as an assistant coach for the Dutch under-21 team.
"I'm leaving a team I think can do very well at the next Euros. We worked hard for two years to get so close and now (they) start over again for the Euros."comments