Wolves’ Europa League exit has made captain Conor Coady all the more determined to get back competing in continental competitions.
Having traipsed to Northern Ireland, Armenia, Italy, Turkey, Slovakia, Portugal, Spain and Greece, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side made the trip to Germany for their first European quarter-final in 48 years.
But Europa League experts Sevilla denied Wolves a semi-final clash against Manchester United, with Lucas Ocampos’ late header sealing a 1-0 win on a night when Raul Jimenez missed an early penalty.
Ending an unforgettable journey in such a manner in front of empty stands in Duisburg was heartbreaking for all connected to the West Midlands club, but the overall experience has only heightened Coady’s hunger to kick on.
“It’s a tough one to take,” the Wolves skipper said. “It’ll take a long time to get over.
“Every single player in that team left everything out on that pitch on Tuesday and over the last year.
“We said before, we wanted to do something special and we were very nearly there, but it wasn’t meant to be, and we’re gutted.
“I’ve loved every part of the competition, it’s amazing, and if people say otherwise they’re wrong.
One team 💛 pic.twitter.com/8idPqv4fDk
— Wolves (@Wolves) August 11, 2020
“To travel around Europe, and the way we’ve done it, I take pride in how our club’s gone about it this year, we could have gone about it in different ways, but we took it in our stride.
“We said right at the start we didn’t want to make up the numbers, we got to the last eight – an incredible achievement for a team that was in the Championship two years ago.
“We want to get back more than ever. It’s gutting we’re not in it next year after we got more points than last, but we take it on the chin and go again next year to try and get better.”
Coady’s pride at everyone connected to the club came with understandable disappointment after one lapse in concentration saw them get “sucker punched” at the death.
Jimenez’s missed penalty – his first spot-kick failure as a Wolves player – was another key moment, but the defender, just like manager Nuno, refused to blame the Mexico international for the exit.
“You can’t put any blame on Raul Jimenez,” Coady said. “He’s scored so many goals and is massive to our team.
“We should have not conceded, that’s how we look at it. It’s got nothing to do with Raul, he was fantastic again tonight.
“As a team, we take winning and losing together. We’ve lost against a top-class side, who finished fourth in LaLiga and got Champions League football. I thought we pushed them and left everything out on the pitch.”
While Jimenez is not copping any flak, the officials were after Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou stepped off his line before saving the penalty.
Replays also showed defender Diego Carlos, the first player to the loose ball, encroached in the box and Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves fumed at the video assistant referee’s inaction at that moment.
“With the ref, it was a normal conversation – I just asked him if the VAR was sleeping on the penalty because the player of Sevilla, who took the ball out, was inside the box already,” Neves told beIN Sports.
“If you can remember against Man City in the Premier League we had a penalty like this, so I just asked him if he was sleeping and he told me ‘yes’.
"VAR was sleeping"
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) August 12, 2020
“I don’t know why he answered like that. I just wanted to know because it changed the game.
“Of course we should play better but if UEFA make the rules, I think everyone needs to stick to it.
“It’s not possible to one game do one thing and the other game they do other – it does not make sense.
“But let’s not talk about that anymore. It’s finished for us, unfortunately.”