Ever since Gareth Southgate re-joined the England set-up back in 2013, assistant coach Steve Holland has never been far from his side.
The duo worked closely together with the Under-21s, where they led the Young Lions to qualification for two Euro Finals and won the Toulon Tournament for the first time since 1994 last summer.
And when Southgate was appointed as permanent Three Lions manager in December, the addition of Chelsea first-team coach Holland to his staff was always one of his top priorities.
- Born: Stockport, 30 April 1970
- Clubs: Derby County, Bury, Northwich Victoria
- Coaching career: Crewe Alexandra, Stoke City, Chelsea
“Reflecting on the four years I’ve been involved, it’s been very enjoyable,” revealed Holland, in an exclusive interview for the England programme with Lithuania.
“It was my first taste of international football, which is quite different to club football in terms of the preparation for games.
“Prioritising and maximising the short periods you have with the team before the games is vital and you’ve only got to look at the game with Germany last Wednesday to see that.
“We hadn’t seen the players for four months, then they reported on Sunday night and we had two days of preparation, and travel, to plan for a game against a very difficult opponent.
“To have gone through that process over that period of time has been an important aspect, it’s been a really good and enjoyable experience and one that’s prepared us well for this opportunity with the senior team.”
The former Derby County player and Crewe Alexandra academy coach first made the step from coaching the U21s into the senior set-up last October when Southgate was appointed as interim England manager.
But he admits it was a seemless move for him, given his experience of working with top class international players on a day-to-day basis with Chelsea
“For me personally, I was very comfortable with it having spent the last eight years working with Chelsea where they are all international players anyway, so to work with the England senior team was really just a continuation of that,” he added.
“It’s an environment I’m used to working in, it is pressurised, but working at Chelsea is also pressurised so from a personal perspective, I was comfortable making that step.
“I have to say the players were really good, they’re very open-minded and great to work with and we clearly have a very talented and athletic group of young lads who want to play for England.
“We perhaps lack a little bit of big-match, big tournament experience and know-how, but that’s our challenge moving forward and we’ll try to bridge that gap.”
You can read the full interview with Steve in the match programme, in which he discusses his full-time switch to the England set-up at the end of the season, working with some of the world’s best managers and his relationship with Southgate.