Keane devastated but proud
Words couldn't describe the true hurt felt by Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane in the aftermath of Wednesday night's concluding fixture of the side's quest to reach next year's World Cup.
It was France who ultimately prevailed in extra-time at the end of an epic night in Paris but only with the aid of a goal which should never have been allowed.
Keane, who cancelled out Nicolas Anelka's deflected goal from the first leg by giving Ireland the lead on the night after 32 minutes, illustrated the anger in the Irish camp when reflecting on the incident 13 minutes into extra-time which significantly altered the contest.
"It's hard to speak now," he admitted. "With the way we played, we certainly deserved to win the game and it killed us near the end with that handball. I've seen the replay but we knew anyway (it was handball). You could see by the reaction of the players, especially Shay (Given) who was two yards away from it. You don't get a reaction like that.
"It was a clear handball. He (Thierry Henrry) almost caught the ball and actually ran into the net with it. We're devastated."
Added the Spurs forward: "Over the two legs, we were certainly the better team. If you look at the chances of both teams, I don't recall them getting many tonight.
"We caused them a lot of problems tonight. We got down the sides, myself and (Kevin) Doyler were keeping the ball but they're through and that's the killer.
"We had plenty of chances. My touch let me down in one when I tried to take it around the goalkeeper and the ball went too far. Damien (Duff) had a good chance too."
Ireland's record goalscorer, whose tally was taken to 41 in the Stade De France, is sure his team can take plenty of consolation from their exertions.
He said: "I told the lads in the dressing-room afterwards that we must keep our heads up. The manner that we played tonight, the most important thing is to never let yourself down and do as well as you can on the pitch for the country.
"Every one of these players and the substitutes that didn't come on all played a massive part and, as captain, I'm very proud to be part of the team. I'm just gutted we didn't make it to the end."