Arjen Robben deserved to retire from international football after Holland had won a trophy rather than failing to qualify for the World Cup, Mark van Bommel has said.
The Bayern Munich flyer tried his best to spark an improbable seven-goal victory over Sweden when he struck twice in the first half to give Dick Advocaat's side hope.
But, almost inevitably, the task proved too steep even for one of Holland's most celebrated players of the modern era and the Dutch failed to book their place in the play-off spot due to goal difference.
Arjen Robben deserved to retire from Holland duty on a high, says Mark van Bommel
The 33-year-old tried to spark an improbable seven-goal victory over Sweden on Tuesday
And Van Bommel has rued the fact that the 33-year-old did not bow out with a trophy, instead choosing to hang up his boots after a disappointing qualifying campaign.
'An absolutely exceptional player like Arjen deserves a worthy farewell instead of this failed World Cup qualifying campaign,' he told Bild.
'He would be entitled to end his impressive national team career on the highest level. Winning a final would be a match for his qualities.'
The former Bayern Munich team-mates were both central to the team that reached the 2010 World Cup final against Spain in South Africa.
Despite scoring twice in the first half, Holland failed to finish second in their qualifying group
Van Bommel believes it would have been fitting for Robben to retire after winning a trophy
However, after going down to an extra-time winner from Andres Iniesta, it wasn't to be for the Dutch — who have finished runners-up four times but never got their hands on the Jules Rimet.
But Van Bommel believes Robben's drive, hunger and desire to achieve all he could is a truly admirable trait.
'Arjen is a living example of someone who knows how to get everything from his career by putting his all into it.
'I regularly tell players about the 100 per cent dedication Arjen shows every day. He's a classic example of this.'
But after 96 caps Robben called it a day — and Van Bommel believes he is an inspiration