FC Twente's march on the UEFA Europa League title may be over after their quarter-final defeat by Villarreal CF but the key men agree that they can be proud of experiences which could stand them in good stead for the season's end.
The Tukkers still have two trophies to play for – being part of a three-horse race for the Dutch Eredivisie with three matches remaining as well as facing a KNVB Beker final against AFC Ajax on 8 May. The Enschede club can therefore look philosophically on their 8-2 aggregate elimination by Spain's Villarreal.
"We can be proud of ourselves," striker Marc Janko told UEFA.com's behind-the-scenes documentary, The Twente Story. "This season was a great season in Europe for everyone here, we had fantastic games in our stadium. At some point, the journey is over and unfortunately it had to be now but I think we can be delighted at what we have achieved."
The memories have been stacking up since the opening night of the UEFA Champions League and the nervous excitement of welcoming titleholders FC Internazionale Milano. That was one of 12 matches – six in the UEFA Champions League and six in the UEFA Europa League – before Michel Preud'homme's men were eventually halted.
"The games against Inter and Tottenham were very special," said attacking midfielder Emir Bajrami. "I jumped in against Inter and I played from the beginning. I remember the song, the Champions League song when I stood there with the Twente shirt on, and it was just like a smile on my face, it was a dream come true."
"We had a very good European season," concurs midfielder Theo Janssen. "We've played some great games and if you'd said that we'd reach the quarter-finals, I think very few people would have believed it. So I think that generally speaking, everybody is looking back on a good season."
The disappointment at the journey ending has been tempered by thoughts of a domestic double with a single point between PSV Eindhoven, reigning champions Twente and Ajax with less than a month of the season left.
"We played three times against PSV this season," goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov said. "We beat them in Eindhoven [and again in Enschede], we beat them at home for the cup – OK, it was with penalties but still we beat them. So we played three times against them, we beat them three times, so I think at the end we deserve to be champions again."
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