England exited the European Under-21 Championship after a dramatic penalty shoot-out semi-final defeat by Holland.
England went down bravely in Heerenveen
Anton Ferdinand's effort, which smacked against the bar, proved decisive as his side lost 13-12 on spot-kicks.
Leroy Lita had put England ahead before half-time, holding off his marker before scoring with a left-foot shot.
Lita also hit the outside of the post with a free-kick but Holland equalised in the 89th minute when Ryan Donk headed across and Maceo Rigters scored.
England had looked to be on their way to the final for the first time since 1984 until Rigters' late effort.
But it proved to be only a taster in the dramatic contest in Heerenveen.
England went first:
Drenthe (hit post) 2-1
Hoyte (saved) 3-2
De Ridder 5-5
Reo-Coker (saved) 7-7
Kruiswijk (miss) 7-7
Derbyshire (saved) 12-12
De Ridder (saved) 12-12
Ferdinand (hit bar)
England ultimately finished as the losing side but the squad can be hugely proud of their efforts.
They ended extra-time with only nine fit players after coach Stuart Pearce had used his three substitutes, Nedum Onuoha was forced off and Steven Taylor played on, despite barely being able to walk because of a knock.
It was a weary England side that somehow managed to keep out the Dutch in the additional 30 minutes.
And they had chances to win the shoot-out before Ferdinand's second spot-kick - he scored with his first - hit the bar.
In between there were three misses from both sides, only for the opposition to fail to take advantage.
There was also the sight of a limping Taylor having to step up and take a penalty following protests from Dutch coach Foppe De Haan.
After Ferdinand's miss, Gianni Zuiverloon scored the winning spot-kick to send the Dutch through to the final.
It had all looked so promising shortly before half-time when Lita turned Ron Vlaar and lashed in a left-foot shot that Dutch keeper Boy Waterman got a hand to but could not keep out.
Lita was agonisingly close to doubling their lead when he thumped a swerving free-kick against the outside of the post early in the second half.
But the Dutch dominated the second 45 minutes and should have equalised when keeper Scott Carson parried Hedwiges Maduro's shot and Rigters fired the rebound into the ground.
The Dutch peppered the England goal in the last 10 minutes but Pearce's side looked set to hold on.
Lita put England ahead just before half-time
However, the ball found Donk at the back post and, with Taylor waiting for treatment on the pitch, Rigters found space to score with an overhead kick from close range.
Ryan Babel nearly snatched victory in normal time when Carson could only watch his fizzing shot fly just over the bar.
With England having already used their three substitutes, Taylor was forced to play on in extra time, despite clearly struggling with his injury.
And when Onuoha went off it left England needing to see out the last 20 minutes with only nine fit men.
There was only likely to be one winner in the extra period but England's weary defence held out bravely to brilliantly restrict their opponents' efforts on goal.
They showed more heart in the shoot-out but, yet again, Pearce - who was part of the senior side that lost semi-finals on penalties at the 1990 World Cup and at Euro 96 - saw his tournament hopes ended once again by the dreaded spot-kicks.
Holland U21: Waterman, Zuiverloon, Vlaar, Donk, Pieters, De Ridder, Maduro, Bakkal, Drenthe, Rigters, Babel. Subs: Vermeer, Krul, Kruiswijk, Jenner, Bruins, Beerens, Schilder, Medunjanin, Jong-a-Pin, Janssen, Van Der Struijk.
England U21: Carson, Hoyte, Taylor, Onuoha, Baines, Milner, Reo-Coker, Noble, Young, Nugent, Lita. Subs: Hart, Alnwick, Ferdinand, Cahill, Richardson, Routledge, Rosenior, Derbyshire, Vaughan, Whittingham.
Referee: Knut Kircher (Rottenburg).