The Netherlands lost to the Czech Republic 3-2 on Tuesday, failing to qualify for EURO 2016.
After finishing third at the 2014 World Cup, the Dutch will not play in the European Championship for the first time since 1984.
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Wesley Sneijder, who has represented the Dutch at three World Cups and three European Championships, said the result was a “collective failure by the players and the staff.”
Sneijder is the second-most capped player of all-time for the national side, and is one of the most decorated players in their history. At 31-years-old, he knows this could have been one of his last opportunities to represent his country at the highest level.
After the match, he spoke about his disappointment to UEFA.com:
I am completely empty, physically and mentally.
We had to win, but you cannot make mistakes like this. That says a lot and is the truth. It is over and out.
Us not qualifying is a collective failure by the players and the staff.
Louis Van Gaal led the Dutch to a third-place finish in the 2014 World Cup before leaving to take the Manchester United job. Since Van Gaal’s departure, the country has failed to produce similar results.
Guus Hiddink was appointed and lasted less than ten months, resigning this summer as the team struggled. Assistant Danny Blind took over but the struggles continued, as the Dutch finished qualifying with five losses in ten matches.
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This disappointment will certainly mark the beginning of a transitional period for the country, as mainstays Sneijder, Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, and Klaas-Jan Hunteelar are all on the wrong side of 30 and nearing the end of their international careers. Now it is time for younger players such as Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Anwar El Ghazi to take the torch and help the team rebuild.
The last time the Netherlands failed to qualify for the EURO’s was in 1984. They rebounded and went on to win the tournament in 1988.