Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul said he had “realised a dream” after his dramatic introduction to the World Cup ensured Netherlands advanced to the semi-finals.
The Newcastle player came on late in extra time and produced two saves in a penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica after a goalless draw over 120 minutes in Saturday's quarter-final in Salvador.
"Tonight I have realised a dream," Krul told www.telegraaf.nl. "What I've experienced is an incredible emotion.
"[Netherlands coach Louis] van Gaal had warned me. It was something prepared and I knew that I would have this chance."
Van Gaal promised Jasper Cillessen - who, unlike Krul, was not told of the planned change for the shoot-out - that he remains his first choice for the semi-final.
"There is no question about who will start next game, it will be Cillessen," he said. "But we felt Krul was the better choice here.
"We told Krul that he would be a possibility for the penalties, but we didn't tell Cillessen, as we didn't want to ruin his preparation.”
The Oranje had numerous chances to win the game without the need for spot-kicks but were denied by the woodwork three times as well as by an inspired display from Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas.
"It was that kind of night when the ball did not want to go in," midfielder Wesley Sneijder added. "But despite all of our hard work we still went into the penalty shoot-out sharp.
"There was only one team that deserved to go to the semi-finals and it was us. If you work hard you go very far."
Netherlands, runners-up four years ago in South Africa, take on Argentina in the last four on Wednesday in Sao Paulo.
"Now we have to think of Argentina," Krul said. "It will be a very difficult game."
"It was that kind of night when the ball did not want to go in" - Wesley Sneijder
Navas lamented his team's elimination from the World Cup but believes they have done their nation proud.
Los Ticos had never reached the quarter-final stages of the competition and had gone unbeaten in Brazil before losing 4-3 on penalties in Salvador.
"We lost everything in a penalty shoot-out and we go home sad but with our heads held high," Navas said to Costa Rica newspaper CRhoy.com. "It's hard but this is life."
Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana saw their spot-kicks saved by Krul while the Dutch converted all of their attempts.
"We cannot blame anyone because to be there at that time is not easy," Navas said. "Our rivals did their job in the penalty shoot-out and we didn't."
Navas was named as FIFA's man of the match for the third time in this tournament after the Levante goalkeeper again came up with a string of good saves to keep his side in the game.
"One just tries to help, to do a good job," the 27-year-old said. "I thank God.
"I always try to make sure that no ball goes in and the posts certainly helped us. Fortunately, Netherlands didn't score throughout the game."
Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto praised his players.
"We are not a world football power but we have done very important things here," Pinto said. "When it comes to penalties, you have to understand the player, the pressure and the circumstances they are in.
"We did a great job."
Pinto, whose side surprisingly finished ahead of Uruguay, Italy and England in the group stages to progress to the knock-out rounds, admitted the Dutch were the better side.
"We were lucky throughout the game," Pinto said. "Navas was brilliant and spectacular.
"We go home proud of what we have done and I want to express my gratitude to the Brazilian people."