England manager Hodgson's delight after breakthrough Poland victory
England manager Roy Hodgson hailed his players after they sealed World Cup qualification with a thrilling win at Wembley.
Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard scored the goals that assured a place at next summer’s spectacular in Brazil – which Hodgson believes is just reward for a rock-solid qualifying campaign.
He said: “We have done the job, we’ve played 10 matches unbeaten and the record is good.
“We are going to Brazil, which is something the whole nation wants and backs us. The support right the way through the campaign has been very good.
“We feel at least that we can be proud of that achievement and we look forward to receiving our reward which is playing at the World Cup finals.”
England made countless forays forward only to be denied by some spirited Poland defending and the sensational Wojciech Szczesny in the away goal.
But aside from a handful of red-and-white counter-attacks, Hodgson’s side held firm.
Hodgson added: “We did very well. I thought some of the football in the first half was spectacular and 1-0 at half-time was scant reward.
"At 1-0 you can’t relax especially when Poland have quality players like Jakub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski on the pitch.
“I died a thousand deaths every time they crossed the half-way line!
“But the important thing tonight was to do the job. It sounds easy – two matches at home and win them and you qualify – but anyone who has been involved in football for a long time and who has seen a lot of matches will know it is not as easy as all that and the important thing is to keep working hard at our game.
“I thought that they showed a lot of heart for a team with nothing to play for and a lot of fight, but we came through.”
After the stresses which come withmanaging a major nation through a qualifying campaign, Hodgson allowed himself a glimpse into the future at what will be his second World Cup finals as a manager.
He said: “It means an awful lot. I was lucky enough to go to a World Cup [in 1994] with Switzerland – I was very proud of that. Switzerland didn’t have the wealth of players that we have with England.
“I thought the USA experience was very good and I think the Brazil experience will be great too.
“There will be pressure along the way but this team is growing in the way it handles pressure and the real beauty of it for me is the blend of the experienced players and the younger players looks good.
“We are hoping they will all stay fit because it really has made a difference having the young players we were talking about a lot in the early part of the campaign being available for us.
He added: “At the moment you want to take all of these lads to the World Cup plus another 15. It’s going to a tough job to pick 23 when the time comes.
“I’m not looking forward to that situation but I’m not going to contemplate that for the next three months.”
Hodgson admitted it would be foolish to build up England’s chances at next year’s World Cup, but is looking forward to seeing his side mix it with the world’s best.
He said: “First of all we have a chance. If you want to win the lottery you have to buy a ticket and we have our ticket now."