England manager Steve McClaren was sacked today in the aftermath of last night's Euro 2008 disaster against Croatia.
The 3-2 defeat at Wembley condemned England to miss next summer's European Championships and McClaren admitted afterwards: "It is an indescribable pain".
"There is so much expectation, both from the fans in the stadium and the people watching on TV at home. We have let them down. We know what they are feeling - we are feeling exactly the same.
"I take responsibility. Ultimately, I said judge me over 12 games. We deserve to be where we finish and we have not deserved to qualify. That is my responsibility."
Like the vast majority of the home fans at a packed Wembley, McClaren simply could not take in the enormity of a game where his team, needing a point to get through, fell two behind inside the first 20 minutes, the first thanks to a calamitous error from Aston Villa goalkeeper Scott Carson, the keeper in whom he had invested so much trust.
From that disastrous position, England battled back to level thanks to the efforts of half-time substitute David Beckham, who set up Peter Crouch for the equaliser after Frank Lampard had netted a penalty.
But England were unable to hold on and Mladen Petric finished them off with a clinical strike 13 minutes from time.
"There were so many high hopes among the nation and the fans and we have failed to qualify," reflected McClaren. "We have not delivered.
"Before the game, it was unthinkable we would concede three goals at home. Mistakes cost us and the start cost us. It was always going to be difficult after that. We knew we would have to take risks but Croatia looked like scoring every time they went forward. That is the disappointment for me. I thought we would be harder to beat."
However, McClaren said he did not regret picking Carson instead of Paul Robinson, even though the 22-year-old's complete failure to get behind Nico Kranjcer's speculative 25-yard effort set the tone for one of the worst nights in recent England history.
"I don't think it was a mistake to play Scott," he said. "I thought he was ready and I stick by that. The conditions were difficult and the ball took a wicked dip.
"He made a fantastic save to keep us in the game at the start of the second half. Ultimately, on a pitch like that there was going to be mistakes. We made too many."
Birmingham City are now expected to try and tempt McClaren to the vacant manager's position at St Andrew's.