Facts & figures: England
Previous appearances in finals: 12
Best performance: Winners 1966
Fabio Capello, a former Italy midfielder with a remarkable record of success at club level after winning domestic titles with AC Milan, AS Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid and the European Cup with Milan.
Took over as England coach following their failure to qualify for Euro 2008 and quickly said his first task was to restore the squad's confidence.
He instilled a new sense of discipline and personal responsibility and the players responded with an impressive qualifying campaign that saw them secure their place in South Africa with ease.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United). Age: 24. Forward.
Already with more than 50 caps. His bustling all-action approach, aligned with a keen eye for a pass, make him a defender's nightmare and a fan favourite.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool). Age: 29. Midfielder.
The heartbeat and inspiration for Liverpool. Can pass short and long, is a fierce tackler and has an endless appetite for work. Critics say he has not delivered enough great performances for his country and South Africa would be the perfect stage to change that.
FIFA world ranking November 2009: 9
How they qualified:
England produced their best qualifying performance, winning eight games in a row to make it with two matches to spare. Croatia, who ended their Euro 2008 hopes, were expected to be their main rivals but a sparkling 4-1 victory in Zagreb set up the campaign and a 5-1 return win at Wembley made sure.
After over-hyping their chances in 2006 and most other tournaments they have reached, there will be little "we can win it" talk under Capello.
England's best 11 should reach the quarter-finals and could, if Rooney remains fit, go further.
However, the absence of an established second striker and lack of quality cover may leave them exposed in the latter stages.