Farewells have a tendency to stir up mixed feelings, yet Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Emir Spahic was left with a decidedly sour taste in the mouth after his side’s defeat to Nigeria in their second group game meant the end of the Europeans’ stay at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.

However, his country’s 3-1 triumph over Iran in their final match at the Arena Fonte Nova, which once again lived up to its reputation as a goal magnet, put a smile back on the captain’s face. Not only did the efforts from Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Avdija Vrsajevic ensure the tournament newcomers left for home on a high note, it also secured them a place in the history books after recording their country’s maiden World Cup victory.

“I’m very proud of my team,” a beaming Spahic told FIFA.com after the final whistle in Salvador. “We’re very proud because it’s the first time we’ve represented our country at a major tournament.”

Spahic would doubtless have preferred to prolong his stay in South America, but a 2-1 reverse to Lionel Messi’s Argentina - who went in front through an own goal - and a narrow 1-0 loss to Nigeria spelled the end of the line.

“We thought we’d reach the knockout rounds and with a little bit of luck we could have done,” the Bayer Leverkusen defender continued. “That’s exactly what we were lacking in the Nigeria game, but that’s how football is and that’s life so we just need to look to the future now. I hope our country is proud of us; they have to be proud of us.”

In addition to the satisfaction of bowing out of the tournament in style, Spahic will return home with indescribable experiences of his stay in Brazil. “There are too many to count,” the 33-year-old said. “Showing my country to the world has been a fantastic opportunity. It’s been a pleasure for us and our nation to participate at such a huge tournament. Playing at a World Cup is unbelievable and it’s something I’ll never forget.”

And with that, a smiling Spahic made his way to the team bus, but not before leaving FIFA.com with a parting shot. “I always take something positive from any situation - always.”