GLENN WHELAN plays with all his heart every time he pulls on an Ireland shirt.
That's why it's hard to take for the Dubliner to see Ireland finish their Euro 2012 campaign at the bottom of their group table with a goal difference of -8, as Whelan admits that the players have "let everyone down" with their display at the finals in Poland.
One small nugget of positivity from last night in Poznan was that Ireland are not the worst team to ever play in the European Championship finals -- just one of the worst.
If we had lost 3-0 to Italy, Ireland would have set a new record as the worst performers at the Euro finals but as it stands we share the record with Bulgaria (2004), Denmark (2000) and Yugoslavia (1984) in finishing a Euro finals with zero points and a goal difference of minus eight.
"It was all a big disappointment. We came here with high hopes but after three games we feel we have let everyone down and it's hard to take," Whelan told the Evening Herald after last night's defeat to the Italians.
"We'll all get away now on holiday but this is hard to deal with, hard to accept.
"Our heads are down. People aren't happy with the way it's gone. We have all had family and friends travel over to watch us play so it is hard to take because we have a new campaign to prepare for in September."
A new campaign but the same old manager? Giovanni Trapattoni said last night that he is already looking forward to the World Cup qualifiers, though many are wondering today if the Italian should be, or will be, in charge of the side that takes the first steps on the road to Brazil in Astana, Kazakhstan, next September.
"We have done very well since the manager has come in. It's not our decision as to who comes in as manager or what system that manager plays. If he stays on then great, but if there are to be changes then so be it," says Whelan.
"In terms of the way we play, I think we may need some sort of change but that's the manager's decision as he picks the team.
"He has a system that got us here. Maybe if we get to Brazil for the World Cup it could change then, but it's not something I can answer," added Whelan.
"We're not as good as teams like Italy or Spain, we never really have been. Whenever we played teams like that before we were always the underdog, no one gave us a chance.
"In saying that, we let ourselves down with the goals we conceded. They haven't been spectacular and we could have stopped them going in. It's been easy for teams to score against us.
"They were all goals that we could have stopped if we'd had our heads screwed on or if we weren't as tired as we were. Italy's second goal last night came in the 88th minute of our third game in eight days, it was just hard at the end."
Anyone who was in Poland to see this Irish side, not only in the three group games but also in training every day, came away with the impression that this Irish side looked tired and jaded.
Too much training? Too long of a spell in camp? General fatigue?
"You can look for excuses," says Whelan, in response to the tiredness charge.
"But on the day, you have to give credit to the three teams that we played against, they were better than us.
"The first game, Croatia, was massive for us. We needed to get off to a good start and give everyone a lift but conceding after three minutes just deflates you. But you have to credit the teams we played against."