England manager Roy Hodgson praised his players' performances as they went out of Euro 2012 on penalties to Italy.
The coach told Radio Five Live: "Anyone can miss a penalty. They were not nonchalant, Ashley Young's smashed against the bar and Ashley Cole's was well saved by Gianluigi Buffon.
"A player's reputation should not be forged on a penalty shootout, their reputation should be forged on the four games and in those four games we have not lost.''
He added: "We stuck to our guns right until the end and the players should be very proud of what they did. I have learnt a lot about the players and their determination and dedication to the task and the fact they are so keen to play for England.
"There were some heroic performances not only tonight but also in the previous three games.''
Hodgson added on BBC1 that the players had practised, but that the spot-kick curse was not to be broken this time.
"When we took it to penalties I was rather hoping it would be our tournament to win on penalties, certainly the practising didn't help us too much on this occasion, maybe it's just fated at the moment that we don't win on penalties but I really can't fault any of the players for their effort," he said.
"At the end we had lots of players out there running on empty, with very tired legs, fighting off cramp, but they kept us in there until the end and when you go to penalties you do have a chance, but unfortunately Italy took the chance and not us.''
Hodgson also praised the England supporters, adding: "They were quite magnificent throughout. I've never seen such enormous support from the first whistle.''
At his post-match news conference the coach conceded that the result was the right one: "We have to accept we weren't quite good enough over the 120 mins," he said.
"Then we went down the same road we have gone down so many times before. A penalty shoot-out isn't a game of football. It is a different competition. I have been very happy with what I have seen from this group of players. This tournament has been very useful for the young players.''