England full-back Jason Robinson admitted he felt like crying as he ended his rugby career at the Stade de France on Saturday night.
Robinson said there was no going back on his retirement decision
The 33-year-old injured his shoulder on 46 minutes and watched England lose 15-6 to South Africa from the bench.
"I had not foreseen my career ending in such desolation," he said in his Mail on Sunday column.
"I'm not a man given to self-pity, but I felt like crying as I walked off. It was the loneliest walk I can remember."
Robinson was a rugby league icon with Wigan and Great Britain before switching codes to join Sale Sharks in 2000.
He sealed his transition with a stunning try in the first five minutes of the first Lions Test against the Wallabies in 2001 and went on to play 51 times for England, scoring 30 tries including one in the 2003 World Cup final.
"My initial goal was to get in the England team and hopefully do well," said Robinson, who will play one last match for the Barbarians against South Africa on 1 December.
I would have said I was walking away from the game without any regrets - until last night
"I hoped to play in the World Cup, but I never imagined playing in two World Cup finals.
"I was lucky to win one of them. It's been an amazing seven years, an amazing 16 years. I achieved far more than I imagined I would."
But Robinson said not even the standing ovation he received in Paris could ease the pain of losing to South Africa.
"Nothing could wipe out that disappointment," he said. "After the euphoria of four years ago, this was a hard defeat to take. Ultimately we know we came up one match short.
"We came to France rubbished by everyone and his dog and were hammered 36-0 by South Africa in a pool game.
"It's one thing to be beaten, it's humiliating to be 'nilled'.
"The squad is overloaded with experience, the commodity you can't buy. Everywhere around the team room you could see men you were proud to go into battle with."
Robinson initially retired from international rugby in 2005, before being persuaded back by new England coach Brian Ashton in January.
But he insists there will be no going back on his decision this time.
Catt (left) could soon make way for the new generation
"The guys have been giving me stick about retiring but I'll have the last laugh when the temperature has fallen below freezing and the grounds are like concrete," he said.
"I'll text them to tell them I'm sat in my slippers in front of a big fire, dipping a biscuit in my tea.
"I would have said I was walking away from the game without any regrets - until last night."
Robinson's England team-mate Mike Catt admits he is undecided on his international future.
The 36-year-old, who was also a member of the 2003 World Cup-winning squad, was instrumental in England's resurgence in France.
"I will go away and talk to my family about it," Catt said in the Sunday Telegraph.
"I really enjoyed it out there last night and it's not something I'm going to throw away without a good deal of thought."
Several others in England's team - mocked as "Dad's Army" before the tournament - may also have played their last international, including Lawrence Dallaglio, 35, Mark Regan, 35 and Simon Shaw, 34.