Xabi Alonso admitted that it is the end of an era for Spain after the reigning champions bowed out of the FIFA World Cup™ in ignominy.
Chile's 2-0 victory at the Maracanã, following on from the Netherlands' 5-1 rampage last week, saw Spain set an unwelcome record as the only champions to bow out after just two matches of the group stage.
Alonso, Real Madrid's former Liverpool midfielder, said: "Things are going to change. Eras end with defeats...and this was a painful defeat. It's a completely unexpected failure but that is sport. These things happen. It was unexpected but we have to take the great sadnesses in the same way as we take the great joys, as men."
Alonso said Spain had failed to keep their hunger for success burning and that a golden era for his generation of Spanish players is now over. He added: "I believe that we haven't been able to maintain the same levels of conviction, of hunger. The success, the happiness of before is gone, it's run out and we haven't been able to keep it going.
We have to take the great sadnesses in the same way as we take the great joys, as men
"We've made lots of mistakes, we've lost a bit of our know-how, and we've paid for it with our solidity that had helped us win so many games. We've not been able to keep the same levels of ambition and hunger, perhaps the real conviction to go for the championship."
"I think it's a bit of everything. Mentally we weren't ready, physically maybe the same but, putting that all together, we weren't in the best shape. Then we have played against teams that were well-prepared and at their peak, and now we're going home. It hurts our pride a lot, but this is football. But as I said, we've known how to win and now we have to know how to lose."
Spain's captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who had a disastrous tournament with bad mistakes in both matches, was at a loss to explain what had happened. He said: "We ask people's forgiveness. We are responsible but also the first ones to feel the pain."
The exit was treated as a tragedy in the Spanish media - Madrid sports daily Marca's headline was "The End - a lamentable end to a glorious era for La Roja."