Fabio Capello insisted on Saturday that he does not yet deserve to be compared to Sir Alf Ramsey, the man he hopes to emulate by transforming England into world-beaters.
Ramsey coached England to their only World Cup success back in 1966 but Capello’s impressive first year in charge of the national squad already has many observers tipping the Italian’s team as champions in South Africa in 2010.
But Capello says there is plenty of work ahead if the England of Wayne Rooney and Co. are to be kings of the world.
“Someone spoke to me about this big manager [Ramsey] but we have to wait. He’s up here — I’m still down here,” Capello said. “It’s a very long way to arrive at the level of Sir Alf Ramsey — it is difficult and very, very long.”
Capello has overseen a dramatic improvement in the national team’s fortunes this year.
After the low of failing to qualify for Euro 2008 under Steve McClaren, England have reached the end of the year on course for the World Cup finals.
For good measure, they ended the year with a 2-1 friendly win over Germany in Berlin.
“It’s been step forward, step forward,” Capello said. “I’m very happy because the last game against Germany we played very well. The first 11 was new players, some players who hadn’t played a lot of games, and we won and this is very important for the future.”
“We had another [stepping] stone for the future,” he said.
Capello added that, unlike McClaren, he was determined to maintain barriers between himself and his players.
“It’s not important to play cards or games with the players. It’s not important to me to be one of the lads,” the Italian said.