By Danny Caro
September 11, 2008
Last night was without doubt the best England performance I have seen in my lifetime.
It was as though I had forgotten how being a proud Englishman felt as the goals kept flying in. It was as though I almost had to pinch myself.
Going into the game I expected a draw at best, hoping that England would give a resilient and gutsy display. No-one could have written the script of a 4-1 win against a country that had never lost a competitive home match.
I had my reservations when manager Fabio Capello was appointed as Steve McClaren's successor. I realised the game had moved on but, call me old fashioned, I think an Englishman should manage the national team, and in an ideal world they would.
But Capello hit the nail on the head this week. His recipe for success was based on organisation, discipline, belief and most importantly, having the players together for 10 days.
For years it appeared that whoever was in charge was trying to bang square pegs into round holes. Football fans could not understand why the nation's top earners turned into Sunday morning park players when they put on that white shirt. But all that changed last night.
I know that the victory will not win us the World Cup but it certainly put a smile back on the face of every England fan, even those who did not register with Setanta.
The last time I felt this way was when England won 5-1 in Munich. I think it is no coincidence that the much-maligned Emile Heskey played a key role in both games. The Wigan front man gave the best possible answer to the racist chants coming from the terraces. He did not walk off the pitch or moan to the ref, quite simply, he knuckled down, focused on his game and helped England play Croatia off the park.
I was not around in 1966 and as good as the 4-1 win over Holland at Wembley in the Euros was, last night capped the lot.