Roy Hodgson is confident England can flourish in the coming years, thanks in no small part to the bond of trust built between himself and captain Wayne Rooney.
The painful memories of their embarrassing World Cup exit still linger, yet the Euro 2016 qualification campaign has allowed the Three Lions to quickly focus on the future.
Hodgson’s men have started impressively and sit atop Group E having won all three matches to date, resulting in some bookmakers pricing England as short as 1-12 to win the group with seven games remaining.
Such odds highlight their opponents’ paucity of quality as well as the exciting, youthful side the England boss is putting together – players which could light up the finals in France.
“I’d like to think our prospects are good,” Hodgson said of Euro 2016. “This batch of young players are an exciting group, there’s no doubt about their talent and potential.
“We’re daring to dream. Whether we’re favourites or not it doesn’t matter.
“It’s 11 men against 11 men, and if we’re a team that is well organised we’re going to make life difficult for our opponents.
“If you can be solid and hard to beat and add players like (Raheem) Sterling, (Daniel) Sturridge, (Jack) Wilshere – players that can win you games – then who knows.”
Hodgson was addressing the Union Chamber at Cambridge University, where he praised the attitude and aptitude of captain Rooney.
“The one thing I will tell you about him is that he’s a very passionate person about playing for his country,” he said.
“He’s a super professional and the one thing I know I can get from Wayne is that I can trust him.
“That’s a great quality for a player to give a coach. I’m speaking from years and years of experience when I say that reliability is an essential quality.
“I don’t know if I knew that at your age, but I know that now.”
Rooney is closing in on Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time scoring record for England, yet some have questioned whether he is a better player now than the one that burst onto the international scene at Euro 2004. When that was put to Hodgson, he retorted: “It was Oscar Wilde who said comparisons are odious.
“I can’t compare and I certainly don’t have the right to compare. I can only comment on Rooney over two years I’ve been working with him. I met him for the first time when I took the team over and in those two years he’s not changed at all.”