By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Stand-in skipper Yohan Cabaye spoke of his pride following Newcastle's gallant Europa League quarter-final exit to Portuguese giants Benfica.
Despite slipping to a somewhat harsh 3-1 defeat at the Estadio da Luz seven days earlier, United never stopped believing and when Papiss Cisse scored in the 71st minute at the St. James' Park, the Magpies dared to dream.
Alas, they could not find the second goal they needed and in stoppage time conceded an equaliser to finally kill off any hope. After 14 European matches, starting with a trip to Atromitos in August, their adventure is finally over but Newcastle bowed out with their heads held high.
Cabaye epitomised that mood as he emerged from the dressing room to speak to nufc.co.uk with the pain of defeat evident in his face but pride in his eyes.
"We gave everything on the pitch," he said. "We played well and we followed the plan. When we were winning 1-0, they were scared about the second goal we were close to.
"Unfortunately we couldn't do it. That is football but we have gained a lot of experience tonight because the game was good to play in and trying to claim back two goals is a good experience for the young players.
"Playing in an atmosphere such as tonight was unbelievable. When Papiss scored, everyone was thinking that we could do it. We had a chance at the end but unfortunately we didn't score again so we are sad tonight.
"It wasn't enough to go through but I think we have to be proud of our game tonight and now just look forward to Sunday and keep the crowd behind us for this big game."
Wearing the armband on such an occasion was something the France international was honoured to do, even if he couldn't quite inspire his men to the result they worked so hard for.
And now the midfielder, who scored in October's draw with Sunderland, is focused on another huge match: this weekend's Tyne-Wear derby.
He said: "The experience for me was fantastic, being the captain of this team.
"I am proud of this football club, proud of everyone. The fans were amazing so I can't wait for Sunday's game and the derby.
"I just want to win the game to move up the table but also for us and for the fans."
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