Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said the defeat and more particularly the manner in which it was inflicted in Friday’s quarterfinal loss to Turkey will haunt him and his players forever.
But the 39-year-old who has created such an impression at these championships insisted that his young side would return stronger in time for the upcoming 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
“This is not the sort of match you play on a regular basis, this is something we’ll never forget — it will haunt us for the rest of our lives.
“We’ll probably weep for a few days but such is life — things like this happen.
“We have to go on, I’ve got a young team, qualification for the World Cup is imminent.
“Tomorrow is a new day, the sun will rise, and my players have a strong character and will be back even stronger.”
After large periods of domination Croatia took a 119th minute lead through kidney transplant patient Ivan Klasnic only for Turkey to strike back in the 122nd minute through Semih Senturk.
After that hammer blow Croatia folded in the penalty shoot-out.
“Penalties were a shock to us. It looked as if it was over, then to concede a goal and for penalties was a psychological advantage to the Turks.”
He paid tribute to all his players, including new Tottenham signing Luca Modric who sent Croatia’s first spot-kick wide.
“Luca played phenomenally well and didn’t deserve to miss that penalty.
“Throughout the tournament he’s played fantastic but to be honest none of the players deserved to miss their penalties.”
‘We missed Eduardo’
Bilic believes the absence of Arsenal striker Eduardo counted against his defeated Croatia side at Euro 2008.
Bilic, after crushing penalty shoot-out quarter-final loss to Turkey, said: “I’ve already mentioned this but I would have liked Eduardo to be in the squad for the tournament. “Sometimes we lacked bite in attack. Without him, we had problems in finishing.”
Eduardo was ruled out of Euro 2008 after suffering a compound fracture of the left leg following a tackle from Birmingham defender Martin Taylor in February.
Bilic had already described the forward’s absence as “a handicap”, saying the team felt his absence in training and at matches.