Hull City players reflect on FA Cup final that came so close to ending in glory
While it is only a day since Arsenal snatched a dramatic comeback win in this year's FA Cup final, for the heartbroken Hull players it must seem far longer.
When Steve Bruce's men went 2-0 up inside the first ten minutes things could scarcely have looked much better, but goal by goal they were pegged back by Arsenal before Aaron Ramsey grabbed the win in the second half of extra-time.
However it could have been all so different, Hull saw an effort from Alex Bruce cleared off the line by Kieran Gibbs that would have made it 3-0, surely insurmountable even for Arsenal's array of stars.
"Maybe that was the key moment," said Alex Bruce
"Then again, if you'd told us before hand that we would go 2-0 up early on, it should have been a big enough cushion.
"Some might say we went 2-0 up too soon. Once we did, we sat off them. There some tired legs, especially in the second half and then extra-time came.
"It was unfortunate we sat off and let Arsenal to comeback into it. That extra quality they had cost us."
For Bruce and his teammates there is at least the consolation of an unexpected European adventure in next season's Europa League, another first for Hull in a season full of them.
"We've got Europe next season and when you have a taste of the big occasion, you want more of it", he said.
"I'm sure my old man will want to bing in that bit of quality we need, although hopefully no more centre-halves!
"Football is a short career. When you get the opportunity to pay in Europe, you want to make the most of it. You want to grab it with both hands. That's what we'll be looking to do. The top players do it, so why can't we?
"In the League, Europe and the cup competitions, you want to do well in them all.
"When you have an occasion like today, you want more of it.
"If someone told me this was the last ever time I'd play on a stage like this, I'd be devastated. Once you've had a taste, you want more and I'll be striving for that next season.
"Playing in Europe will be massive for the club.It will help us attract better players. We've definitely put Hull on the map today."
James Chester, who made a miraculous recovery to score in the final, is another Hull player who now has a thirst to play in more high-profile matches.
"But seeing Arsenal lift the trophy has given me a real desire to come back here. I certainly don't want this to be a one-off. Not at all. It's been an amazing experience. Getting through the rounds and playing here. It's something I'd love to emulate," he said.
"We've shown this year that we are team with great character. We do have some quality here. No-one gave us a hope at the start of the season to stay up, but we did it quite convincingly with two games to go.
"I think Hull is a club on the up, massively. I love coming in every day. I've got a smile on my face."
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