Roy Hodgson believes leading England at next summer's World Cup will be the proudest achievement of his career, after seeing his side book its ticket to Brazil with a 2-0 victory over Poland at Wembley on Tuesday.
Goals from Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard near the end of either half secured the all-important win England needed, ensuring they finished one point above Ukraine (who beat San Marino 8-0 at the same time) at the top of Group H.
Hodgson, who joked that he "died a thousand deaths" every time Poland crossed the halfway line during the contest, acknowledged that managing his own country at a World Cup, the second of his coaching career, will be a hugely proud moment.
Hodgson previously coached Switzerland at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
"Yes, I think it will," Hodgson said at his post-match press conference, when asked whether taking England to Brazil would be his biggest achievement. "I don’t want to denigrate other achievements, though.
"Taking Switzerland (to the 1994 World Cup) was also a real achievement. But I’m English; you can’t get away from the fact it means a little bit more to you when you can do it with your own country."
As for the night's result, Hodgson was delighted that it was his captain, Gerrard, who got the goal that finally clinched England's passage.
"I thought it was fitting that Gerrard scored that goal," he noted. "If anyone has played a captain’s innings since I’ve been with the England team, it was him."
"Both performances (including Friday's 4-1 win over Montenegro) have been good," he added. "I thought some of the football in the first half was quite spectacular, and 1-0 at half-time was scant reward.
"We feel that we can be proud of that achievement and we can look forward to our reward, which will be playing in Brazil."
Hodgson avoided any prognostications about how England might fare in South America, with the country having failed to reach the semi-finals of the competition since 1990.
"It’s a bit early for me to talk about our potential impact on the tournament," he said. "The important thing tonight was to do the job.
"It sounds easy, two games at home, two wins needed, but everyone who has been involved knows it is never as easy as that."
Hodgson's opposite number, Waldemar Fornalik, was happy to credit England after their success.
"Congratulations to England," Fornalik said. "We tried to do our best to disturb the plans but they won it eventually."
The game's two goalscorers dedicated the victory to the fans—over 85,000 of whom (over 20,000 of them Polish) packed Wembley to create a raucous atmosphere.
"That was for the supporters tonight, who can go and get Brazil booked now," Gerrard told ITV.
Rooney added: "We've always remained positive, we've had a great focus and believe in ourselves.
"It's a good time for England."
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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