Steve Holland insists England “have a reason to believe” they can win the World Cup in Qatar next year.
Assistant coach Holland hailed the Three Lions’ consistency in a hectic 12 months comprising reaching the final of Euro 2020 but also completing an unbeaten qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup.
Boss Gareth Southgate and Holland recently signed new contracts to stay at the England helm until 2024, with the coaching duo now eyeing the ultimate prize in Qatar next year.
“I think the confidence comes from the reality, not just from the coach telling the players ‘you can do it lads’,” Holland told the PA news agency.
We have reached the last three #BritishSportsAwards. We begin with Sports Team of the Year for 2021 and for a superb run to the final of this summer's European Championships, it is @England! #SJA2021 pic.twitter.com/HeEocLHNDV— Sports Journalists (@SportSJA) December 2, 2021
“When you’ve got to a semi, then to a final, players believe, because they can see, they can see it’s possible.
“The next time they play in a final it will feel more normal. So I think we have a reason to believe that’s possible.
“Certainly the objective when we started was to win the World Cup, and it still is. And we’re not going to duck from that, that’s for sure.
“It’s possible and we’ll be giving it everything we’ve got to try to achieve it.”
England reached the summer’s delayed Euro 2020 final, only losing to Italy on penalties at Wembley in July.
Southgate and Holland had already steered England to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia in 2018, and are now determined to push the national team that last step in Qatar.
Holland accepted the Team of the Year award on England’s behalf at the Sports Journalists’ Association British Sports Awards in London on Thursday.
Southgate also picked up the inaugural Sky and Kick It Out award for equality and inclusion.
Holland was quick to heap praise on the England collective in the wake of the awards, but also insisted there is plenty of work still ahead.
“The big thing about this England team is the clue is in the word team,” said Holland.
“We have a really strong support team behind the players, who have excellence in their fields, they are motivated to give everything to help the team.
“We have a team of players that want to play for England, and their consistency in the last 12 months, not just in the Euros but also in the World Cup qualifiers before and after.
“The challenge that all the staff and players have had in the last 12 months has been immense, and the level of consistency that the team produced really should be reflected on with great pride for all those involved.
“I do reflect with pride but I do want to stress I’m one of a team and it’s been a huge team effort. It’s an honour to be here and for us to win this award.
“It would have been nice to have won the Euros but you can’t get much closer than penalties in a final. It was the first final in my lifetime and I’m 51.
“We have a great leader in Gareth, who has done an amazing job culturally really. The nation like the team again, and that’s so important.
When you've got to a semi, then to a final, players believe, because they can see, they can see it's possibleSteve Holland
“We have some really good players who are not only good players but also great ambassadors for the country, whose use of their platform with the team to promote areas for the greater good has been truly outstanding.
“We have an amazing backroom team behind the team as well. So we can reflect on an amazing year of progress.
“To have reached the semi-finals in Russia and then the final at Wembley, that’s the two back-to-back most successful tournaments in English history.
“I think we can feel we’re making progress and we can feel we are getting closer to the win, but that’s another step to make. And we’re all positive about making that next step in the next competition.
“A year today in Qatar we’ll be in that tournament, and that’s a great opportunity to go that one step further.”