Gareth Bale insisted Wales should be proud at having defied expectations by reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and not be too disheartened by their 2-0 defeat in Lyon.
Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani meant their journey ended a game from the final, but the Real Madrid man still took great pride in their achievements over the last five weeks.
“We’re massively disappointed, but we’ve got to be proud of ourselves first and foremost,” Bale told ITV.
“We’ve given everything on and off the pitch and tried to enjoy the experience of the tournament, said Bale, who topped our player ratings after the match.
“We want to thank all the fans because the support we’ve had has been absolutely incredible.
“Naturally we’re disappointed. Maybe we felt we should have got more out of the game. They got the first goal and were a bit lucky on the second.
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) July 6, 2016
“We tried our hardest to get back into the game and fought until the last second. We’re sorry we couldn’t get to the final, but we gave everything.
“They shut up shop quite well and limited our opportunities, so fair do’s to them.
“We gave everything and have no regrets. We’re a proud nation and are proud of what we achieved.
“Obviously we’d have loved to get to the final and challenge for the trophy, but it wasn’t to be.”
Bale’s Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo nodded home the opener in Portugal’s 2-0 victory.
“He’s a natural goalscorer and he scored yet again,” Bale said.
Chris Coleman spoke of the devastation in Wales’ dressing room, but the manager also echoed Bale’s sentiment about the sense of pride within the team.
“You don’t want to lose, especially in the semi-finals, so we’re absolutely devastated really,” Coleman told ITV.
“The players are devastated but they should be very, very proud. The nation are very proud of them.
“Getting to the semi-final is one thing, but it’s the way in which they’ve performed and conducted themselves.
“It’s also in the way our travelling supporters have come here and conducted themselves. We’ve added to the tournament.
“You win and you lose in football. We’ve done our fair share of winning and now it’s time to lose unfortunately. It’s a tough one but I’m really proud of our players.”
Coleman lamented the unavailability of midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who was suspended for the last-four showdown.
“Aaron Ramsey would be a miss for any team, but we have to give credit to Portugal,” he said.
“They paid us a huge compliment by defending deep and sitting off us. We’re normally better when teams attack us and we can find a bit of space.
“It was whoever got the first goal and they got it. I can’t ask for any more from the players, they gave the nation what they’ve got.”