By Nicholas Veevers
FA Chairman David Bernstein watched the final England match of his reign on Sunday, as he prepares to stand down from the role later this month.
The Three Lions opened the new Maracana Stadium in Rio by playing their part in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Brazil.
And Bernstein spoke to the media from the team's base overlooking Copacabana Beach before the game to reflect on his spell with The FA and discuss a whole host of different topics.
He leaves with a heavy heart having overseen some real milestones for English football's governing body, including the appointment of a new England Manager, the opening of St. George's Park and the celebrations of The FA's 150th anniversary year.
Bernstein said: "Being involved with The FA has been fantastic, particularly the Club England part of it.
"Working with Adrian Bevington (Club England Managing Director), Sir Trevor Brooking, the team and of course Roy Hodgson has been a real pleasure and the set-up that we've got is working really well.
"The players are very relaxed and part of it. It's never easy when the players aren't yours and you only have them for a short space of time.
"So we've done really well to establish a great atmosphere all around and that will stand us in good stead as we go forward."
One of Bernstein's major contributions to Club England was of course the appointment of Hodgson as manager last year.
Following the sudden departure of Fabio Capello and with EURO 2012 looming, the former Inter Milan, Fulham, Liverpool and WBA boss took charge for the Finals in Poland and Ukraine.
And Bernstein is happy to leave England in what he believes are the capable hands of Hodgson ahead of new Chairman Greg Dyke's arrival at Wembley later this summer.
He said: "We thought when we appointed Roy that he brought a lot of attributes, his experience, his depth of thinking and his buying into the whole game.
"He has great interest in the wider development, such as St. George's Park and youth development and all of the other important things that are important in the long term development of English football.
"He buys into that so I think he was a first class appointment and I'm very confident that he will take us forward.
"As a football fan I enjoy the matches. When I was Chairman of Manchester City and then The FA, there's a certain tension attached to watching your own side.
"It's part of the responsibilities of being Chairman of the organisation but in general, I do enjoy it.
"My successor will make his own mind up, but I have met with him and passed on my views to him."
Bernstein says the fact Hodgson was an Englishman never came into consideration prior to his appointment.
Following on from an Italian boss in Capello, there was a feeling that an English manager would be best suited to the role.
But Bernstein felt Hodgson was the stand-out candidate regardless of his nationality.
He added: "I said at the time and my view hasn't changed - we want the best manager and on this occasion, the best manager was English.
"It would be great if the best manager in the future was English as well. I'd always have a preference for an English manager but we need the best available. If they're English, that's great.
"International sport is so tough and you need everything right to get the success that you want. Frankly, I think the country would rather have success with the right manager."
England now face an important few months as we move into The FA's 150th anniversary year, with four crucial World Cup qualifying games to play.
Hodgson's team have three of those games at Wembley as they bid to earn another trip back to Brazil next summer for the World Cup.
And Bernstein has every confidence that Hodgson will be able to get the best out of his squad to secure top spot in their group.
"Roy has only been manager for a year," he said.
"He took over for the Euros last year just before the competition and I thought that had we won that penalty shoot-out against Italy, we would have had a very successful competition.
"As it was, we did well there and subsequently our record since has been okay.
"There's been one or two games which we drew that we would've liked to have won but I think you've got to give this a little bit of time.
"It's been a learning process for Roy and he's still learning about his squad and we have suffered from a lot of injuries.
"As we get to these key matches in the autumn, I imagine we'll have a wider range of players to choose from.
"We know that these qualifying matches coming up are very tough and there is a lot of pressure.
"But I expect us to do well and I'm confident we will qualify.
"English football needs the England team to be at the major championships, whether that's the Euros or the World Cup so it would clearly be bad news (if England don't qualify) and there would be huge national disappointment.
"I'd be as disappointed as anybody, what more can I say? We need to be there."
Should the Three Lions be successful in their quest to reach the World Cup Finals, Bernstein also believes that the squad should head back to South America with ambition of bringing the trophy home.
He said: "How else can an England team approach a major competition without coming to win it?
"At tournaments, you never know and there are occasions when the favourites blast their way through like Spain have done.
"And then you can have a side like Denmark who won the Euros, despite not even qualifying, so you just don't know.
"You need a whole suit of things to work for you, a bit of luck, maybe win a penalty shoot-out, but who knows?
"I believe that if we qualify, we come back here to win it.
"I think anyone playing for England is world class by definition. You don't get into the England side unless you are a top player in Premier League and the level of quality in the Premier League is world class."
The previous two games over the last week have also seen England model both of their new home and away strips by Nike.
It's the first time the team has used the training, leisure and matchday kit and Bernstein has been pleased with the relationship struck up with the sportswear giants already.
He revealed: "We have a real say (in the kit design). Nike design it first and then present it to us.
"We had a series of presentations so we have our input into it and it got our approval.
"Nike are a brilliant company to deal with, they are powerful, efficient and are they are great partners."
With the game in Rio signalling the end of the season for Hodgson's Seniors, there is plenty more football to come for England fans this summer.
The U20s take part in their World Cup in Turkey later this month, the Women have a European Championship to challenge for in July and the Under-21s are preparing for their Euro Finals in Israel at the moment.
And with Under-21s Head Coach Stuart Pearce out of contract after the Finals, the job of that re-negotiation is one that Bernstein says may have to fall to his successor.
He admitted: "The situation is being left open and we'll review it with Stuart at the end of the Under-21s tournament.
"Whether or not I'll be involved, I haven't thought about it too much as it's right on the cusp and we'll be at the stage where any discussions will probably include my successor.
"I don't want to tie anybody's hands, but for any major decisions at that stage it would only be right for my successor to give the nod."
One concern for all English fans is the number of homegrown players who are featuring regularly for their clubs at first team level.
A lot has been made over the last few seasons about the decreasing percentage of English players involved in top level games.
Bernstein is also concerned at those stats, but knows that with the plans in place for youth development and the introduction of St. George's Park last year, improvement could be around the corner.
"We need more English players playing in the Premier League," he said.
"That's the real issue and this per cent figure that we throw around needs to go up to 50 per cent.
"That is the long-term issue and that's why everything that's being done in terms of the EPPP, the programme that Sir Trevor Brooking is leading towards the development of more skill base in our young players, St. George's Park and more coaches.
"That is aimed at producing what we need - more quality, skilled English players going forward.
"The conundrum here can only be solved by the quality of English players improving so they push themselves in and they can't be disregarded.
"Premier League clubs are inevitably there to win games and do well with the best players they can at the best value they can.
"That's part of their psyche. We need more players who are good enough to push themselves into those sides."
Another issue which Bernstein has had to contend with during his two and a half year spell is that of player retirement from the England squad.
The likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand have both stood down from international duty in recent times and Bernstein insists this is an individual choice for those concerned.
"Any player is free to make up his mind over what he wants to do and when he does it," he said.
"To my mind if a player doesn't want to play for England with enthusiasm then he shouldn't be on the agenda so I support Roy in what he says.
"It should be the greatest honour and we all know that great players can only achieve real greatness if they've done their thing at international level as well as club level.
"We all know that there's nothing which brings the English public together more than a successful England football team.
"1966 is still probably the pinnacle moment of English sport, let alone English football.
"The Bobby Moores and Bobby Charltons and other players of the past are perceived as they are now all these years later because they were fine club players but also magnificent players for their country.
"I can't speak for any individual player, people do what they want to do but I personally find it surprising that a football player wouldn't want to play for their country for as long as they can.
"We have examples of that in our squad now, look at Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard who are both down the road in their careers but are both showing passion and pride.
"That's what we want and if people haven't got that then I don't think they should be here."
The prospect of a winter break is another matter that has often been a topic of discussion throughout Bernstein's time at The FA and before that.
With the question over whether England's performances at summer tournaments is affected by the players having had a long domestic season beforehand, Bernstein was quick to offer his own thoughts on the matter.
He said: "Personally, I'm sceptical about it for a number of reasons.
"Firstly, football is a winter game and the public enjoy their football through winter and we have to think very carefully about taking football away from the public during the winter.
"The physiological side of it is arguable too. I think it's interesting that at the end of a long season when players are very tired, the clubs take players away on long trips to all-sorts of places.
"I think the clubs would just end up taking players on commercial tours during the winter.
"We all know the fixture calendar is so congested and difficult, so if it was introduced, would the season go on a month longer?
"These are major issues but this is a personal view, not an FA view."
And with the topic of fixtures in the air, Bernstein was asked for his thoughts on The FA Cup.
With the Champions League Final being held at Wembley for two of the last three seasons, that has meant The Final has had to be played before the end of the Premier League calendar.
But Bernstein is pleased that The Final next season will be back in its rightful spot at the head of the English season.
"We've all been disappointed that The FA Cup hasn't been the final game of the season, but that will change next year," he said.
"I think that's very important because for The Final to be lodged in between other big matches doesn't help."
Another question posed to Bernstein regarding The FA Cup was that of the Semi-Final ties being played at Wembley Stadium.
Historically, these fixtures have been played at neutral venues around the country but with the facilities and capacity on offer at Wembley, Bernstein is happy that The FA will continue to host these games at the venue.
He explained: "They will continue at Wembley, it's contracted with our Club Wembley members as part of their package.
"And I think a lot of people like it, so I disagree with the sentiment that they don't. The days are gone when only one match a year was played at Wembley.
"There are lots of club matches played at Wembley and it's too big an asset not to have important matches played there.
"The Semi-Finals have been wonderful occasions for the fans. I know there have been transport difficulties, but basically I think fans absolutely adore being at Wembley.
"The odds of smaller clubs who might not get to a Final getting there is wonderful for their fans too."
And there could be more big games at Wembley to come in 2020, with Bernstein revealing that there will be an application to host games at the European Championship Finals of 2020.
That competition will take place at stadiums across Europe and Wembley will be in the mix to host the cream of Europe again.
He said: "I believe we will put in two bids, one for the semi-final and final and one for a group game package, which would include an England game at Wembley.
"We can't get both but they will go in alongside one another.
"I understand that Turkey have a good chance of getting if they don't get the Olympics but it's up to UEFA."
Bernstein's departure from The FA comes due to the fact he turned 70 earlier this year and the organisation's rules don't allow its Chair to be above 70.
He accepts that's an aspect of the role though and leaves with nothing but best wishes for the future of the organisation as it looks beyond its 150th year.
"The rules are the rules, it hasn't worked in my favour but I respect the rulebook of The FA," he concluded.
"That's where it is and if it changes in the future, that's up to them.
"You play by the rules and if that's the way it is..."
By Nicholas Veevers