Devastated Chris Coleman apologises to Sunderland fans after humiliating relegation to League One
The Black Cats were leading Burton Albion at the Stadium of Light heading into the final few minutes thanks to Paddy McNair's low strike.
But a shambolic end which started with Darren Bent's 86th minute header and ended with Liam Boyce's added-time winner in the 92nd minute saw Sunderland relegated.
In a dramatic finale John O'Shea saw a header hit the crossbar and Sunderland controversially had a 95th minute equaliser from McNair ruled out for handball, cue despair on Wearside.
A devastated Coleman said: "We haven't been good enough. It hasn't been enough and I apologise to the supporters.
"It is a brutal experience, the disappointment is huge.
"Maybe it was blind optimism, even with three games to go, and five minutes to go we are in the driving seat and winning even though we didn't play very well today.
"It was two nervous teams. With five minutes to go the atmosphere in the ground was great, everybody was singing.
"And then it all changed for us. This is the 44th game and we haven't been good enough.
"I apologise to our supporters who have stuck with us every week and followed us away from home.
"We haven't been enough and we have fallen short."
There was initial confusion at the final whistle, until it became clear that Sunderland had been relegated because they can only finish on 40 points.
Bolton and Burton Albion play each other next week, one of those teams will be on 41 points at least next weekend.
Coleman, when asked when he found out, added: "It was such a mess the last 60 seconds, the craziness of the decisions from the referee and his linesman.
"It is not why we got relegated, don't get me wrong. But that was an absolute mess, caused by themselves.
"There was a bit of confusion. Obviously I know who is playing who and what is going on, it is compounded the disappointment of losing so late on to Burton.
"This is the fourth time in five games we have been leading with five minutes to go or 20 minutes to go, leading late on and we don't hang on to those points.
"If you don't do that, you end up where we are.
"Whatever was needed we haven't had it. We have come up short."