Roy Hodgson looks back fondly on his achievements with England and believes nurturing several younger players during his time in charge may be his “best work” in all the years he has been a manager.
Hodgson’s four-year reign ended in ignominy when England were beaten by Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016, with the 2-1 defeat in Nice widely regarded as one of their worst of all-time.
However, Hodgson did oversee a perfect qualifying campaign, in which England won all 10 group games to advance to the tournament in France in buoyant spirits.
And it is this period that Hodgson has reflected on with pride although he acknowledges that the lack of anything tangible was always likely to cloud how he is perceived.
The 69-year-old told the Big Issue: “I think probably the four years, especially the last two years after the World Cup, fashioning a team from a very young group of players, many of whom weren’t even in their club side, and playing the sort of football we were capable of playing – we were playing very, very well.
“I am very, very proud of that achievement. I think it is probably the best work, in many ways, that I did or have done so far.
“But of course, any work you do as a sporting person, a football coach or any coach, if it is good work you’ve got to have something – a championship – to show for it. We didn’t get that, quite the reverse.”
But Hodgson, whose contract expired at the end of the European Championship, thinks his achievements would have been recognised by his employers and those within the game.
He said: “I believe people who work within the game and inside sport realise what I did and certainly I got all sorts of messages from all sorts of important friends and acquaintances.
“So there was never any doubt I would collapse in any way with self-doubt. If anything, I think the experience makes you stronger.”
As for the criticisms of his decisions during Euro 2016 – such as Harry Kane taking corners – Hodgson has short shrift.
He added: “They are nonsense. People should be ashamed of those things.
“Why shouldn’t Harry Kane take corners? If he happens to be the best striker of a ball in the team and gives you the best delivery, why shouldn’t he do it?
“I was totally uninterested in those type of comments, which I regard as purely irrelevant and dishonest. No one whose opinion I respect would have said anything like that, otherwise I would have heard about it.”
On the defeat to Iceland in the last-16, he said: “I consign it to history.
“I don’t need to watch it, I have a perfectly good idea of what happened and why it happened.”