T&T: Gone but not forgotten
In a tournament that opened up with very few surprise results, the achievement of Trinidad and Tobago in holding Sweden to a goalless draw stood out.
Their first-ever appearance at a FIFA World Cup set a standard that the Caribbean islanders were just seven minutes from replicating even surpassing against England as they established a blanket of red shirts in front of goalkeeper Shaka Hislop and almost suffocated the ambition and hope out of England.
Two late goals crushed them on that occasion and the Soca Warriors' hopes of scoring a first FIFA World Cup goal, and securing a first FIFA World Cup point or more, were then thwarted as Paraguay left them nailed to the foot of Group B with a 2-0 defeat in the last group fixture.
Go to the Trinidad and Tobago team page
Showing great determination and resolve to make up for their inexperience and lack and resources, T&T will still look back on these two weeks in Germany as a success and a tiny nation can take enormous pride in their achievements. Just to be part of football's quadrennial football showpiece was a triumph in itself for a team representing just 1.1 million souls and nobody should feel ashamed at their results.
It is worth stating as well that they performed more impressively than other teams with stronger credentials. And to survive all but ten of the 180 minutes combined against Sweden and England was no mean feat considering the generosity they had offered opponents in their warm-up matches which had many people fearing they could be embarrassed in the competition itself.
Added to that was an injury in the warm-up before the Sweden game which ruled out goalkeeper Kelvin Jack from their FIFA World Cup debut. It could have been a heavy blow but Leo Beenhakker's squad is blessed in having two fine keepers and Shaka Hislop performed to the level that supporters of his many clubs in England have come to expect. To make life more difficult in that opener, a red card shown to Avery John right at the start of the second half left them to hold out for 44 minutes with ten men.
The lack of a single goal in the three games was a disappointment but this was a tough group and the positives (ie, the defensive performances) far outweigh the lack of potency shown in front of goal.
Dennis Lawrence and Carlos Edwards did some sterling work at the back while in the centre of the pitch Dwight Yorke, in what seems likely to have been his farewell to the national team, acquitted himself with great discipline in an unaccustomed defensive midfield role. Fellow midfielder Chris Birchall was another who took the huge step up from the English lower leagues in his stride.
Yorke said after the final fixture: "I have played football for over 20 years as a professional and these have been the best times of my life."
Read our exclusive interview with Dwight Yorke
Reasons for optimism
The experience of the past two weeks can only work to T&T's footballing benefit, hopefully for years to come. The team will break up and apart from the probable departure of Yorke, another of their legendary stars, Russell Latapy, is unlikely to form part of future plans at the age of 37.
But youngsters will be inspired by the achievements of Beenhakker's team and the focus that has followed them on their journeys around Germany. Expect emerging young players like Southampton's Kenwyne Jones to really come to the fore for his country over the next two seasons.
Beenhakker said: "The players have shown they can play at this level. But the experience they have had in this competition can only help development even more and hopefully that will be seen in the results they get."