The nation that introduced the beautiful game to the rest of the world has underachieved in international tournaments, winning just one major trophy; the World Cup in 1966 on home soil. More recently the Three Lions have reached the quarter-finals in the past two tournaments and will be hoping to perform better in South Africa under the stewardship of Italian tactician Fabio Capello.

England qualified for the 2010 finals with ease, losing just one game, and that was away to the Ukraine when they had already secured their passage to the World Cup. In South Africa they find themselves in Group C along with the USA, Algeria and Slovenia and are clear favourites to win the group.

The Coach

Fabio Capello (ITA)
63 years old

Fabio Capello boasts an impressive CV which has seen him win the La Liga title twice with Real Madrid and the Serie A title several times with AC Milan, Juventus and AS Roma respectively. The Italian also won the Champions League with AC Milan in 1994.

Since taking over as England manager in 2008 the former Real Madrid coach has revived the fortunes of England’s national side following the disastrous reign of Steve McClaren. Capello has instilled a discipline into his players both on and off the pitch, something which has made him popular with England supporters. In the build-up to the tournament the ex-Juventus manager has stated it would be a personal failure if he failed to guide England to the World Cup final.

Players to watch

Wayne Rooney
24 years old
Manchester United (ENG)

2009/10 will go down as the season where Wayne Rooney finally fulfilled his world class potential.  After Cristiano Ronaldo’s record breaking move to Real Madrid and Carlos Tevez’s defection to the blue half of Manchester, the former Everton striker became the focal point of the Red Devils’ attack. The Liverpudlian revelled in this new found responsibility finishing the campaign with 34 goals and at times he appeared to be carrying Manchester United single handily. For much of the campaign Sir Alex Ferguson employed Rooney as a lone front man, something Capello could consider if England progress to the latter stages of the competition.



Frank Lampard
31 years old
Chelsea (ENG)

Since Capello arrived in England the Chelsea midfielder’s international career has been revitalised. Playing with a genuine holding midfield player in Gareth Barry, the former West Ham man has been able to exert his authority games on much more. After a terrific end to the season at Chelsea where he finished with 27 goals in all competitions, his best ever return, Lampard will travel to the Rainbow Nation full of confidence and at 31 years old this is could well be his final chance to make his presence felt on the world stage.

Ashley Cole
31 years old
Left Back
Chelsea (ENG)

Rated by many as the best left back in the world, Ashley Cole is coming off the back of a tough season, not on the pitch, but off it. England will need Cole to put distractions behind him though, and produce the performances which can help to drive England forward. A tenacious defender, the Chelsea man can also be vital going forward. A fit and on form Ashley Cole can make England’s left flank not only secure, but a platform from which to launch attacks.

James Milner
24 years old
Aston Villa (ENG)

James Milner was an integral part of Aston Villa’s push for a Champions League spot this season as club coach Martin O’Neill moved the former Leeds United player from the flanks into central midfield, where he became the driving force in Villa’s engine room. A series of energetic displays won Milner many plaudits and he received recognition from his peers when he was crowned PFA Young Player of the Year. With question marks over the fitness of England’s first choice holding midfielder Gareth Barry, Milner could be the man to replace him in the starting eleven.

The view from England

Expectations are always high where England and major international tournaments are concerned, but on this occasion England fans have reason to feel optimistic. With a tactically astute coach and Wayne Rooney leading from the front the Three Lions have the ability to go far in South Africa. Confidence is high in the England camp; team captain Rio Ferdinand has expressed his belief that England are going to the Rainbow Nation to win.


Last December’s group draw has handed England a mix of teams which shouldn’t cause them too many problems and they should progress as winners. Another factor which will be to England’s advantage is the temperate South African winter, England have historically struggled in the heat of summer tournaments and will welcome the cooler climate. With all things considered a run to the semi-final is realistic where European Champions Spain should have too much for Capello’s men.

Did you know?

An England side containing such legendary names as Billy Wright and Tom Finney lost 1-0 to the USA in the group stages of the 1950 World Cup held in Brazil.

Group games

12/06/10: England  1 – 1  United States    –   Rustenburg
18/06/10: England  0 – 0  Algeria    –   Cape Town
23/06/10: England  1 – 0  Slovenia    –  Nelson Mandela Bay