Gareth Bale said Wales should have no regrets after their remarkable Euro 2016 run ended in a 2-0 defeat to Portugal in the semi-finals in Lyon on Wednesday.
“We’re obviously massively disappointed. We’ve got to be proud of ourselves first and foremost,” Bale told ITV.
“We’ve given everything, on the pitch, off the pitch. We’ve tried to enjoy the experience of the tournament. We want to thank the fans for all the support we’ve had — it’s been absolutely incredible.”
In their first major tournament since 1958, Wales topped their group ahead of England despite losing to their British neighbours.
They then beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in the last 16 and came from behind to stun Belgium 3-1 in the last eight but their run was ended by the Portuguese.
“They got their first goal and then were lucky with their second — we tried our hardest to get back in the game and we fought until the last second. We’re sorry we couldn’t get to the final but we gave everything.”
Bale came closest to scoring in a cagey first half before Real Madrid colleague Cristiano Ronaldo headed Portugal in front five minutes into the second half.
Ronaldo then turned provider as his shot was turned in by Nani three minutes later. Portugal will now face hosts France or world champions Germany in Sunday’s final.
“They shut up shop quite well – they limited us to two opportunities so fair-dos to them, but we gave everything, we have no regrets.
“We are a proud nation, we are proud of what we achieved. We obviously would have loved to have gone to the final and challenged for the trophy but it wasn’t meant to be.
“We are very proud – we keep the confidence now and go into the next campaign.”
Of Ronaldo’s latest goal-scoring exploits, which saw him match France legend Michel Platini on nine goals at the European Championship finals, Bale added: “He’s a natural goal-scorer and he scored yet again.
“But it’s not about them, it’s about us. We are disappointed, but we’ll pick ourselves back up. We’re a proud bunch, we’ll stick together, we’ll lift the spirits and we’ll go again.”