You did us proud!
That was the message from defiant yet disconsolate football fans across Wearside after its Sunderland-born sons Jordan Pickford and Jordan Henderson saw their World Cup dream end after England suffered extra-time agony in a semi-final defeat by Croatia.
Hopes had been high that our lads would reach Sunday’s final against France when Kieran Trippier put the Three Lions into an early lead with a magnificent free-kick, sparking scenes of wild celebration - as our video above shows - among the fans who had filled the 2,500-capacity at the FanZone, in Low Row, to watch the game on a giant screen.
Many had come with their faces painted in England colours and with giant inflatable footballs.
"Football’s Coming Home" and "Jordan Pickford - he’s one of our own" were chanted loudly and regularly throughout the evening - but the jubilant mood fell flat when Ivan Perisic equalised for Croatia before Mario Mandzukic broke English hearts with an extra-time winner.
Former Black Cats Pickford and Henderson had given their all throughout the tournament, with all of Wearside getting behind the two boys in their bid for glory.
And though they will now have to settle for finishing third or fourth depending on the outcome of Saturday’s play-off with Belgium, they are still champions in the eyes of supporters across Sunderland.
Cris Watson Hope, from Ryhope, was among those who had gathered in the FanZone.
She said: “The two Jordans were amazing throughout the tournament.
“They did a fantastic job for Sunderland and did the city proud. They can definitely be proud of themselves.
“We fought a good fight and I thought we were going to do it. We’ve never been this far for a long time, it’s a young team and we will come back even stronger.”
Her husband Ron Hope, 64, felt the referee had not given English players enough protection on the pitch.
The retired satellite engineer said: “Apart from that, we did our best.
“Pickford played superbly with those saves. How do I feel about the result? Sick!”
Karen and John Hutton, from Easington Village, were also among the England fans who left disappointed by the result.
John, 62, a welder, said: “Jordan Pickford did his best to keep us in the World Cup but it just wasn’t for us this time.”
Karen, 60, an optical assistant, said: “This is a building block, the boys will be back better next time.
“Jordan Pickford was marvellous.”
Fans on our social media pages were also largely appreciative of England's efforts.
Janine Bell wrote on our Facebook page: "Did us proud. Well done lads."
Stacey Jayne Clark argued: "Heroes have to practice before they become legends."
Joyce White said: "They did well to get us where they did. Well done lads."
Fareed Fred Abbas added: "Did us proud. No shame when you think what a very young team achieved in comparison to some of the other teams that went out a lot earlier.
Stuart Carragher-Hall, commenting on the efforts of the two Jordans, wrote: "Superstars the pair of them."
Lynne Willis said: "They did us proud, our Mackem lads. Superstars."
Adeleine Stubbs added: "They achieved much more than was expected so well done lads. You did yourselves and your country proud."