Following the unsavoury scenes at Upton Park this week, Chelsea defender Ashley Cole believes the England squad can put a smile back on the nation's face by securing qualification to next years World Cup in South Africa. r
England face Slovenia in a friendly next week ahead of their crucial qualifier against Croatia at Wembley on September 9, where victory guarantees the Three Lions a place in next summer's finals.
"Were so close at the minute it's starting to feel like we're on the way and it would be nice if we could make the country a bit proud of football again," he said in a video interview available to watch in FourFourTwo.com's ever-expanding interviews section.
"We've got a very big game coming up against Croatia and if we get a good result then we're virtually there.
"It would be a great achievement for the players and the country as well - and hopefully it would put a smile back on people's faces.
"We know what it did to the country when we missed out on Euro 2008. It put the country in a bad state - everyone was thinking we weren't good enough.
"But we've been very focused since then. We are top of the league and hopefully we can beat Croatia and get one back on them."
It was just 21 months ago that England lost to Croatia at Wembley and failed to qualify for the European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.
The result cost Steve McClaren his job as manager, while Cole also received criticism and was booed by his own fans after making a mistake against Kazakhstan at Wembley.
But Cole has since turned his form for both England and Chelsea around, making the left-back berth his own under Fabio Capello and being named man-of-the-match in the 2009 FA Cup final.
And although he still gets the odd complaint about his attitude on the pitch, he puts it down to a simple determination to win.
"When I play, that's how I play, I'm afraid," he said. "I'm not miserable - I am always laughing and joking along with my team-mates but it's right that people want you to treat it like a job when you play.
"I don't think other people laugh and joke all the time at work and I am not going to either. I take it seriously. I want to win and if people think I am moaning there's nothing I can do.
"I enjoy playing football, I love playing football. Yes, maybe sometimes I can be a bit moany but I won't change. There's a lot at stake.
"Right now I feel the fittest I have ever felt so all I want to do is keep trying to improve and keep trying to help the team win trophies.
"I love winning trophies and I love the feeling of winning - that's the kind of guy I am. And I want to do it with Chelsea and with England."comments