England boss Fabio Capello was on the phone congratulating Stuart Pearce after he dropped Theo Walcott but still sealed a place in the European Under-21 Championship semi-finals.
Walcott was on the bench at Gothenburg's Gamla Ullevi but came on after an hour and set up James Milner's goal in the 2-0 win against the highly-rated Spanish.
Capello then spoke to Pearce to congratulate him on reaching the last four after what proved to be a bold decision on leaving out Walcott.
"He just said congratulations, just watched the game and he's pleased as punch with the result, and obviously I'll feed that back to the players," Pearce said.
"They're the eyes of the man they want on them. Yes, me as their manager, but they want Mr Capello's eyes on them and see that gutsy performance.
"Credit to them and a lot of our players will have done themselves a lot of credit and that's what this tournament is all about."
Pearce admitted Walcott was disappointed when he named the team and got the news that his quiet 45 minutes in the win over Finland was not good enough for him to keep his place.
Adam Johnson was picked ahead of him and Pearce's message was that Walcott would not get special treatment because he is established in Capello's squad.
"I've only ever treated everyone equally," Pearce said. "People get in and out of the team on merit and that has happened this time.
"I didn't speak to him before, the team went on the board and Theo took it like any member of the staff would take it. He was disappointed but when he came on he put a performance on, going forward and helping by tracking back."
England went into the break goalless after Milner had a penalty saved. Walcott came on after 62 minutes and Fraizer Campbell opened the scoring shortly after, with Milner sealing the victory by thumping home Walcott's cross.
Milner received a yellow card that rules him out of the game against Germany next week, although England will be in the semi-finals even if they lose.
"I said before we left that Theo would be treated the same as the other 22 in the squad," Pearce said. "What I do ask for is a reaction if they do get left out.
"You saw what he was about as a man and a player. He reacted the way I thought he would."
Micah Richards was named man of the match but he admitted the award should have gone to Fabrice Muamba for anchoring the midfield.
"That was as good a performance as you'll see," Pearce said. "We wouldn't have won without him."
Richards added: "They found it very hard to break us down because of Fabrice.
"Credit to Theo, when he came on he change the game and set up a goal."