The bitterly disappointed Swede said ‘sorry’ no fewer than seven times as he reflected on England’s heartbreaking quarter-final exit to Portugal on Saturday in a farewell press conference.
Eriksson said two factors were to blame for the defeat: the pivotal red card for Wayne Rooney and the failure of his players to convert their penalties.
In the final analysis, he said, England had only themselves to blame.
“I think we should be doing the warm down now and looking forward to the semi-final,” Eriksson said. “But we’re not, and we have to blame ourselves because I don’t think we should be going home today.
“But that’s life and you have to accept it. It will take a long time for it to sink in and I’m sorry – I’m really sorry for the squad, and I’m sorry for all the England fans. They deserved something better.”
“If you see the teams in the semi-finals, we should be there. And I’m sorry for all England, for the team, for the fans, and for you (the media) a little bit that we’re not there.”
“We had a very good chance, the opportunity was there, but we didn’t take it. I’m sorry about that.”
Eriksson said he had replayed the match in his mind but he was certain that it was Rooney’s dismissal and poor penalties that were the over-riding reason for the loss.
“Every time you don’t win a football game as a manager, you think about about what you could have done, to maybe win,” Eriksson said.
“But it was about two things yesterday – a red card and penalties, he added, saying he was at a loss to understand why England had such trouble converting their spot-kicks.
“Why we don’t get the penalties right I really don’t know,” he said.
“We’ve been practicing penalties for five six weeks now, more or less every day. In our final shoot-out, the opponents missed two out of five so you’d think we have a good chance.
“But we missed three out of four, which is very poor.”
Eriksson said he was not sure how history would judge his tenure but said he would like to be remembered as an honest coach.
“I wished to be judged an honest man who tried to do his best, that’s it,” he said. “If three quarter-finals is good enough or not … well, the two quarter-finals were good enough, this is not good enough.
Eriksson has attracted legions of critics for having pocketed around 20 million pounds for his spell in one of the most demanding jobs in football.
But the Swede defended his generous salary, believed to be the most well-paid in international management.
“I think other managers are paid well at this level,” he said. “I’ve never understood why international managers should not be as well paid as a club manager. I’m not the best paid manager in the world.
“There are others earning more as a manager of a club than I do. It’s better that you judge whether you’ve got value for money.”
Eriksson, who has been linked to various management jobs, including a possible vacancy at Real Madrid, declined to speculate on his immediate future.
“I’m going to take a holiday,” he said. “Whether it’s two weeks or a year I don’t know.”