Cevallos: We were so close
© AFP

Liga de Quito keeper Jose Francisco Cevallos could be forgiven for feeling despondent at the end of a day on which Los Albos missed the chance to win the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008. A late Wayne Rooney goal ensured that European champions Manchester United, and not the Ecuadorians, would be taking the trophy away with them.

Had it not been for Cevallos's extraordinary performance between the posts, however, Liga de Quito's chances of victory would have evaporated long before Rooney rifled home the winner. Beaten but unbowed, the veteran custodian spoke exclusively to FIFA.com just moments after the final whistle.

"I had a good game but I had the team right behind me as well. I felt secure with them around," he said, clearly proud of his side's efforts. "It hurts that we went so close to making history, to achieving something really beautiful, something wonderful for us and Ecuador. If (Jairo) Campos's shot had gone in at the start, it could have made all the difference but you never know. I'd just like to congratulate Manchester United on their win."

"I'm pretty down and upset right now," he continued, expressing the feelings of the Liga dressing room. "You're always looking for more and you always want to win. We played against a great team today and we matched them at times. We came close to equalising, but football's like that and they scored a goal that was enough to win them the title."

This defeat is painful for all of us. And at my age I don't know if I'm going to play in another final like this, a game as important as this.
Liga de Quito keeper Jose Cevallos was a despondent figure after his side's defeat.

With the game still fresh in his memory, the 37-year-old shot-stopper relived the whole experience. "We were tense at the start but we gradually started to get organised, keep possession and break up their rhythm. Going a man down made things more difficult for them, but then they went and scored when we were having our best spell.

"Cristiano Ronaldo deserves a lot of credit for the pass that led to Rooney's goal," added Cevallos in reference to the decisive moment of the game. "I though he was just going to hit it but his pass and Rooney's shot wrong-footed me. You can't afford to give goalscorers the slightest chance, the least little bit of space."

Trying to overcome his disappointment, the charismatic keeper expressed his gratitude to the people back home. "All I can say to the Liga fans and all the people of Ecuador is thank you. Thank you for giving us so much support. We wanted to give them something else to shout about and it would have been absolutely fantastic, a dream, if we'd pulled it off. It's a shame we couldn't do it but I want everyone to know that the hard work, the sweat and the effort we all put in out on the pitch was for them."

At this late stage of his career, Cevallos is well aware he may not have another chance to win the trophy. "This defeat is painful for all of us. And at my age I don't know if I'm going to play in another final like this, a game as important as this. I wanted to win, go home with the cup, and feel the satisfaction of winning a world trophy at club level."

Even so, Cevallos is looking to the future with optimism. "We'll be going home to Ecuador now. All this is history, unfortunately, and we'll just have to wait and see what happens next year. We'll be battling hard for more silverware, though, and we need to set new objectives for the competitions coming up: the league, the Copa Libertadores and qualifying for the Copa Sudamericana. At least, today, we can take some satisfaction from having reached a final."