Steven Davis believes Rangers will remember their Europa League run with pride once the pain of their heartbreaking final defeat eases.
he Northern Ireland midfielder admitted penalties was the cruellest possible way to lose the game.
But he warned they cannot dwell on the result, with the Scottish Cup final against Hearts next up tomorrow afternoon.
Rangers came so close to a fairytale European triumph against Eintracht Frankfurt in sunny Seville on Wednesday night.
With the sides deadlocked at 1-1 after 120 minutes, Aaron Ramsey’s missed kick in the shootout decided it.
An hour after the final whistle, a clearly emotional Davis admitted it was difficult to take.
“It is really disappointing — it is hard to put into words obviously after the game and reflect on it,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Once it goes to penalties, it is a bit of a lottery and it was always going to be a cruel way to lose and, unfortunately we are on the wrong side of it.
“As I say, it is really hard to reflect on it straight after the game but it is obviously an incredible achievement to get to this stage.
“I was confident that if we could come into the game and replicate some of the performances we had already shown then we could come away as winners.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and when you get into a final and don’t win it, it’s very hard to enjoy.”
After a goalless first half, Rangers swept into the lead through Joe Aribo, sparking wild celebrations among the travelling fans who filled three-quarters of the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
But Rafael Borre rammed home an equaliser to take the game into extra time.
As penalties loomed, Ryan Kent had a glorious chance to win it, only for goalkeeper Kevin Trapp to pull off an astonishing save.
In the shootout, Ramsey’s weak kick was saved by Trapp, with Frankfurt winning 5-4 on penalties.
Davis added: “We gave it our all. Whenever we take a step back from it, and over the weeks ahead we’ll reflect on it — it has been a great journey.
“We gave everything out there to try and win the game in 120 minutes.
“It was always going to be a moment of magic or a mistake that was going to be defining.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t find that in 120 minutes. It goes to penalties. As I say, there is a little bit of luck involved and we were on the wrong side, so it’s very disappointing.”
TV pictures showed Davis consoling a despairing Ramsey moments after his penalty miss.
He admitted finding the right words to comfort the Wales midfielder, who had been brought on for the shootout, had been difficult.
Davis added: “I think it’s very hard straight after the game.
“Rambo will be hurting but he was brave enough to go up there and take one, and it’s just unfortunate for him that he’s missed.”
Davis, who also experienced European heartache when Rangers lost the 2008 Uefa Cup final to Zenit St Petersburg, is confident they can deliver again on the continent.
“We have progressed every season since I’ve been here — it was unbelievable to get to this stage,” he added.
“We wanted to come here and win it for our ourselves, for all the fans. We just couldn’t do it and that’s really disappointing.”
At 37, Davis’ future at Ibrox is uncertain. His contract expires in the summer, and he has struggled to force his way into the team at times this season.
He was reluctant to discuss what the future might hold, insisting his focus is now on tomorrow’s Scottish Cup final, where Rangers will bid to lift the trophy for the first time since 2009.
He added: “It’s not really the time to talk about it, to be honest — we’ve obviously got to get over the disappointment of this one very quickly.
“We’ve got a massive game on Saturday and we want to make sure we come out on the right end of that one.”
With this weekend’s Hampden date on the horizon, boss Giovanni Van Bronckhorst admitted his team must put Wednesday night’s heartache to the back of their mind and concentrate on securing an important domestic trophy.
Van Bronckhorst says: “Of course it’s not going to be easy to get them ready because it’s emotional.
“We are hurt and disappointed. We had the biggest game of the year but we have to play on Saturday.
“We are flying back with only one day to prepare, it will not be easy but we will do it, we will be ready for Saturday and try to end the season with a trophy.”
The former Netherlands captain was pleased with his players’ efforts during 120 minutes in Spain and also in reaching their first continental final in 14 years.
He said: “It was, of course, a big disappointment.
“If you lose a big final in Europe, it will hurt.
“But I can’t complain with what my players gave last night and before last night but in the end it was a really tight game, it went all the way to penalties and we lost. They gave 100 per cent and that is all you can ask as a coach.”