Ivan Rakitić, Ognjen Vukojević and Daniel Pranjić know how agonisingly close they came to causing a massive UEFA EURO 2012 upset against world and European champions Spain, but despite their Group C exit, there was pride in the Croatia camp at the performances they produced in Poland and Ukraine.
Ivan Rakitić, Croatia midfielder
I did not manage to take the chance that came my way. I think I will probably have sleepless nights, thinking about that. It was obvious that we gave everything on the pitch, we gave it our best shot. I can honestly say that my soul was left on that pitch, and I think I need a few people to carry me off the pitch because I am literally dead.
I just want to say one big, big thank you to our supporters. They were cheering for us, they were here with us all of this time – we are really very, very proud that people like that are behind us.
Ognjen Vukojević, Croatia midfielder
Unfortunately we didn't succeed but I think we played very well.
I think we competed against the mighty Spain. Unfortunately, in order to beat Spain you have to have a little bit of luck. We will regret missing Rakitić's chance – if we had scored that I think it would have changed the course of the game. All the players can be proud of everything they have done, we had three big games. Unfortunately we are not going through to the next round, but I think that Croatia have big prospects for the future.
The fans can be satisfied. We gave it our all, we fought from the first match to the last, from the first minute to the last. We are going back home with our heads held high. We didn't succeed in going through to the next round but I think that Croatia are leaving this European Championship full of pride.
Danijel Pranjić, Croatia midfielder
We played the way we'd discussed with the coach. We defended brilliantly - we didn’t allow Spain any big chances. It is difficult to get possession, they are the masters of keeping the ball. They put us under pressure and anticipated our counters.
As long as the match was still scoreless we had a chance. If Rakitić had scored, who knows how this match could have ended. But unfortunately we cannot change it.
If you can make Spain nervous until the last minute of the match about getting through, I think that is an outstanding performance. I think we really put our hearts into the match, but unfortunately we did not manage to qualify for the quarter-finals.
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