Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp admitted it will take a long time to come to terms with the disappointment of missing out on a place in Europe next season after his side slipped to sixth position in the Bundesliga in the very last minute of the season.
A 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach would have been enough for the Westphalians to qualify for the Europa League had Hamburg not scored a stoppage-time winner over Eintracht Frankfurt.
"We have worked hard, but not reached our goal," said Klopp. "The disappointment is huge. We have not managed to reach what may not have been the aim we set at the start of the season, but which became one as the season progressed.
"It would take too long to describe how big the disappointment is. But I am proud of my team and proud of our fans, who have been sensational all season.
"I hope we can build on this next season. The way in which the team and the fans have come together is incredible and I can only promise that we will continue where we had to leave off today."
The players' frustration was even greater and Sebastian Kehl and Roman Weidenfeller almost came to blows after the final whistle.
"We were on fire for the last few weeks and then all of a sudden everything is destroyed in the last minute," said Kehl. "That certainly brings out all your frustration."
Klopp condemned Weidenfeller for his verbal tirade at Kehl, saying he "should not present such an image, even after a game like this".
The only positive words came from Gladbach boss Hans Meyer, who said avoiding relegation was "the biggest thing in 38 years as a coach".
However, his future remains unclear. He has a contract until 2010 and would not be drawn on whether he would be fulfilling it.