The long-suffering Russians entered the biggest event in sport as its lowest-ranked nation but ended up coming up just short of reaching their first World Cup semi-final in 52 years.
"We felt your support from the first second." The national team has been gaining followers and drawing increasing political attention from government leaders with every win.
The men in red themselves sounded inconsolable on Saturday.
Their mood appeared to have brightened by the time they had returned to Moscow to greet their worshipping fans.
Forward Fedor Smolov received a rousing reception despite making a mess of Russia's penalty kicks.
"I am so happy to be a citizen of Russia," he told the crowd.
"No other team in the world has fans like we do."
Midfielder Denis Cheryshev dedicated his four goals -- tied for second-most in the tournament behind England forward Harry Kane's six -- to "the whole country".
"Of course we wanted to go further," he admitted. "Thank you from the bottom of my soul -- we love you." Other players took turns thanking supporters before the ceremony ended with a rousing rendition of the Russian national anthem.
The entire ceremony was aired live on national TV.
"Yesterday, there were tears," said defender Sergei Ignashevich.
"I had them and the guys did. They were tears from the loss, and tears of happiness. Thank you."
The 38-year-old came out of international retirement to play for Russia one last time after injuries depleted their defence.
He called an end to his playing career earlier in the day.
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