Tottenham captain Michael Dawson said his side believed they had secured fourth spot in the Premier League after Gareth Bale's 89th-minute winner against Sunderland.
Cheers of delight echoed around White Hart Lane midway through the second half as rumours spread that Newcastle had equalised against Arsenal at St James' Park – a goal that would have opened the door for Spurs to snare a Champions League place for next term.
Yet those suspicions proved to be false and a crestfallen Dawson could not hide his despair as Tottenham came agonisingly close to a place in Europe's elite club competition for a second season in succession.
"The season we have put in, the work rate, the quality we have shown, it's devastating," he told Sky Sports. "At one point we heard our fans cheering and we thought Newcastle had done us a favour, and then Gaz [Bale] pulls another world-class goal out, and then I am on my knees because I have heard it hasn't happened. It's a hard day to take, again.
"It's a hard day. We went out there, did our job and unfortunately it wasn't good enough. To get 72 points, the biggest total the club have ever got and not qualify for the Champions League is hard. As a team, players and a football club, we can take positives. But to miss out on the Champions League, this is not a good day."
Meanwhile, Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has urged his side to "push on a level", as he tried to take positives from a season that ultimately ended in frustration.
"Overall, the season is very good," Villas-Boas said. "We have to keep our ambitions high, hold on to our best players and look at the points total, that is higher than before to get into the Champions League, as a reference for next season.
"We pushed two clubs that normally should go for titles [Arsenal and Chelsea] and we are not far from them. This shows how good we have done and we want to be in their position next time around."