Mats Hummels said defending champions Germany’s group stage exit from the World Cup finals for the first time since 1938 was a “bitter” shock for the team.
The Germans’ 2-0 defeat to South Korea in Kazan on Wednesday means they finished bottom of Group F and sends Joachim Loew’s side home after two defeats and a single victory.
“It is a really, really bitter evening for us,” admitted Hummels, who squandered a late chance when he headed over.
“The situation is very difficult to put into words,” he told ZDF.
“We did not put the ball in the net, even though we had plenty of opportunities, including myself in the 86th minute — I have to score from chances like that.
“It is a very bitter evening for us and for all German football fans.
“We believed in it until the very end, we tried to shoot, but we just couldn’t get the ball in.
“We had plenty of opportunities, we broke our necks trying out there today.”
Germany qualified for Russia with a perfect record of 10 wins, but Hummels said the last time the team played well was when they wrapped up qualification late last year.
Their problems in Russia began when they lost 1-0 to Mexico in their opening match.
“We put ourselves in this situation after the Mexican game,” Hummels said.
“The last game we delivered a good performance was in the autumn of 2017.”
Midfielder Sami Khedira said Germany had simply failed to live up their status as defending champions in Russia.
“This is one of the most difficult moments for the team and me personally,” the Juventus midfielder said.
Khedira was recalled to the team against South Korea after being dropped for the narrow win over Sweden, but produced another ineffective performance.
“Before the tournament, we said that the world champions have to lead the way.
“That is not easy to do, but we didn’t take on the task.
“Personally, I am one of the first to take responsibility and we now have to live with the consequences.
“The last 10 years have been sensational,” he added