Steven Gerrard heartbroken after England Euro exit
England captain Steven Gerrard admitted it was tough to take after a "heartbreaking" exit from Euro 2012 following a penalty shoot-out defeat against Italy.
England were beaten 4-2 on spot-kicks after their quarter-final clash in Kiev had finished goalless after extra-time.
This was the latest in a long line of penalty shoot-out exits from major tournaments, following on from 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2006, and while Gerrard praised his team-mates for their showing in Poland and Ukraine, he conceded it was a painful way to go out.
"Everyone's been great in training, every time we've come out I think we've done the country proud, but again we're going home with heartbreak, which is difficult to take," he told BBC1.
The Liverpool midfielder added "I just feel for the players who from day one have given everything and today we did the same.
"This time in the penalty shoot-out we thought we might have the bit of luck we needed but it wasn't to be.
"Credit to Italy they are fantastic team and they got the luck in the shoot out."
England found themselves in the ascendancy in the shoot-out when Riccardo Montolivo missed Italy's second kick and Wayne Rooney scored the next to put Hodgson's men 2-1 up.
However, Italy slotted home their next three kicks while Ashley Young's effort come back off the crossbar and then Ashley Cole saw his attempt saved by Gianluigi Buffon.
England manager Hodgson told Radio Five Live: "Anyone can miss a penalty.
"They were not nonchalant, Ashley Young's smashed against the bar and Ashley Cole's was well saved by Gianluigi Buffon.
"A player's reputation should not be forged on a penalty shoot-out, their reputation should be forged on the four games and in those four games we have not lost."
He added: "We stuck to our guns right until the end and the players should be very proud of what they did.
"I have learnt a lot about the players and their determination and dedication to the task and the fact they are so keen to play for England.
"There were some heroic performances not only tonight but also in the previous three games."