The Rangers manager cut a crestfallen figure as he reflected on the disappointment of the penalty shoot-out defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium that saw his side fall at the final hurdle after a fairytale run to Seville.
The match finished 1-1 with Joe Aribo’s second-half opener for Rangers cancelled out by Rafael Borre’s leveller to send the match to extra-time and penalties where Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp was the hero, saving Aaron Ramsey’s spot-kick before Borre slotted home the winner.
Rangers players were left both heartbroken and exhausted and van Bronckhorst now has three days to pick them up for the end of season showdown at Hampden Park after a defeat that he ranked as painful as losing the World Cup final with the Netherlands back in 2010.
He told BT Sport: "Of course, I'm very disappointed. We were very close to winning silverware and in the end when you don't win the emotions go from really high to very low. I've had those moments in my career. Losing big games, losing the World Cup final. It hurts. For us, we now must look ahead. It feels difficult but we have to makes sure we are ready for Saturday in a big game against Hearts for the cup.
"It's difficult. It's short days because we play already on Saturday but we have to face this challenge as well. The emotions are very down but we have to change that quickly to be prepared for Saturday."
Van Bronckhorst also spoke of his pride in the players following a campaign that took them through 17 matches in a European campaign that saw them overcome the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Red Star Belgrade, Braga and RB Leipzig to reach the final.
"I said to the players we came so far and we deserved it,” he said. “I'm very proud of them becuase we had challenges with injuries and a lot of games we played, but we always gave everything. Today as well, we had our chances, a big chance just before full-time with Ryan [Kent] with the great save. Of course with the penalties it's a lottery and we were not on the right side.”
The defeat means Rangers will need to go through qualifers to reach the Champions League group stages next season.
“Next season we have to start all over again,” van Bronckhorst added. “We came so far because we played well. We had the belief to win the final but next year it starts all over again. It’s not certain we'll be on this level. We're going to work hard and make sure we develop as a team, and we want to be on this stage. Next year we have to do it all again. We start from zero and we'll work hard to get silverware next season.”