Costa Rica's remarkable run to the World Cup quarterfinals may have ended with a defeat on penalties, but coach Jorge Luis Pinto said his Ticos "achieved beautiful things" in Brazil.
The Netherlands ousted Pinto's men after goalkeeper Tim Krul stopped two penalties, but Costa Rica will still return home as heros after going further in the tournament than they ever have before.
"We're hurt, but we feel happy nevertheless," Pinto said. "We are thankful for the Brazilian people and their support. We have achieved beautiful things and people didn't believe in us. During this World Cup, we have played against great powerhouses in football. We feel happy and thankful for the team and for the country of Costa Rica."
After surviving former champions England, Italy and Uruguay, the Ticos faced perhaps the toughest road of any team to reach the knockout stage but managed to win their group. They then beat former European champions Greece on penalties, but were not as fortunate on Saturday.
"We were never afraid of very strong powerhouses, Pinto said. "We were here to play, sometimes we were able to play, sometimes we weren't, but that's football. Still, I think we have presented a dignified image of Costa Rican football."
The Netherlands took the majority of shots in Saturday's game, but Pinto said his players fought hard until "luck" dumped them out on penalties.
"Netherlands is not an easy team," Pinto said. "They have players who have played in the Euros, the World Cup and other important leagues. We have fought from the beginning and we were well organised.
"Penalties depend on luck, but it's the way it is. We have shown that we can offer a good show and beautiful football. We defended well all the time and have shown quality.
"I told my players that I was very proud of them because they have given everything. It's not only football, it's also attitude and the way they have behaved and this deserves acknowledgment."
"What we have learned from this is that we have come here respecting huge countries we had to face, and still we played against them at an even level."
Krul was introduced in the final minute to stop the penalties after Jasper Cillessen played the first 120 minutes. Pinto said the move did not unnerve his players.
"Maybe he's a specialist and I respect that, but I've never seen that before," Pinto said. "We were not intimidated at all. He stopped two penalties, but it's the nature of penalties and it depends on luck."
Pinto also praised the work of goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who only allowed two goal in the Ticos' five games and was named man of the match on Saturday.
"I think Navas has been the best goalkeeper in this World Cup. When stopping a penalty, you must have luck," Pinto said.
Despite Costa Rica's unprecedented run, Pinto said he's not satisfied.
"I am thankful to my country. I am thankful to Costa Rica and I am thankful to those responsible in Costa Rica who have allowed me to be here," he said. "Now, the dream is to come back one day."