Although his men finished off with a 3-2 defeat to Germany in the Third-Place play-off, Tabarez is adamant the whole of Uruguay can rejoice at their accomplishments at the World Cup.
La Celeste reached the semi-finals for the first time in 40 years where they were narrowly beaten by finalists Netherlands.
And the 63-year-old admitted he too had been surprised by how well his side had acquitted themselves in South Africa.
"Uruguay have been one of the surprises of the tournament and we still don't realise what's happened back home," Tabarez said.
"I received an email on Friday from a lady I didn't know who said, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you for having changed the image of our country'.
"I'm surprised, it's the beauty of sport and the serious work we've accomplished.
"The match was contested by two teams who really wanted to finish in third place, by two teams who gave everything.
"We made one mistake too many, but we showed that we were capable. We showed that we could compete with any team in the world."