There were almost as many orange shirts on the floor overnight at Amsterdam Central station as there had been Dutch yellow cards on the pitch in Johannesburg.
The streets were silent as the Dutch came to terms with being “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”, as one former international player put it.
Newspaper headlines like “Nothing Again” reflected the disappointment after the Netherlands’ third World Cup Final defeat.
“It burns,” said one stunned supporter. “It burns inside me… It hurts very much.”
“I’m disappointed. This is heavy.” A second fan was almost lost for words.
A third was slightly more forthcoming but just as shattered by the defeat. “This could have been the most beautiful day of my life,” he said, unable to forget the late goal that sank Dutch hopes. “116th minute. That hurts. Everybody in the Netherlands is disappointed. It happened 32 years ago, 1978, and in 1974 …”
The same supporter did manage a forlorn “adios, amigos” in tribute to his country’s Spanish conquerors as he trooped off home with his friends.