World Cup 2014: England manager Roy Hodgson has no regret at long route to recognition at home

His route to the England job took him from Sweden to Switzerland to Italy. Now he will lead his country at the biggest tournament of all

rio de janeiro

In his autobiography I Think Therefore I Play, Andrea Pirlo affords Roy Hodgson a single paragraph. When they were together at Internazionale in 1999, Pirlo was a young player beginning his career and Hodgson was an interim appointment before the arrival of Marcello Lippi the following summer. Pirlo recalls one key detail from their time together.

“Hodgson mispronounced my name,” he wrote. “He called me ‘pirla’ [dickhead], perhaps understanding my true nature more than the other managers.”

Asked about it today, as he prepared to face the 35-year-old Pirlo in his first game at a World Cup as manager of England, Hodgson said as gently as possible that he disputed the memory of his former player. “I think he may have used a bit of poetic licence there,” he said. “I called him Andrea for the most part. I never use surnames. I don’t ever remember referring to him as Pirlo – I’m a Christian name person.

“Maybe ‘Andrea’ and ‘Pirla’ sound similar. Certainly, he was anything other than a ‘dickhead’. I felt a bit sorry for him because he hadn’t played much when I came because the squad was full of No 10s. Roberto Baggio, Youri Djorkaeff, Ze Elias all vying with Paulo Sousa for a place.”

Hodgson was no part of the decision to sell Pirlo to Milan, where Carlo Ancelotti then launched his career as one of the great playmakers of his generation. By then Hodgson had moved on again, this time to manage Grasshoppers Zurich on the great journey of his career that has come full circle, one might say. Although Hodgson, ever wary of the pitfalls of language added: “I don’t want the circle to end. I want the circle to carry on.”

It was another day of preparation as the week moves towards Italy in Manaus on Saturday. On Thursday England travel, and Hodgson is burdened with another concern, this time the injury to Danny Welbeck which forced him out of training in the session the England manager took after his media commitments here in the Urca neighbourhood.

It was his first exposure to the Brazilian press, who were curious to ask him about his only previous World Cup finals experience, with Switzerland in 1994 – a reminder of his extensive coaching past. Internationally, Hodgson is well-known and well-regarded, whether it be coaching a young Pirlo at Inter or Finland or the United Arab Emirates or Neuchâtel Xamax in Switzerland. At home it can be a different story.

What is the phrase, someone asked, about prophets and homelands? Hodgson, being Hodgson, knew immediately – “No one is a prophet in his own land” – which expresses something of the situation in which he has found himself until now, 38 years into a very successful management career. He finally has the job that places him above all others, manager of England at a World Cup, although did he feel resentful it has taken so long?

“There were some very good coaches in that time [who experienced the same]. Vic Buckingham is a very good example, a top-class manager who really and truly did fantastic jobs. John Mortimer at Benfica. It’s a good question, but I don’t know whether I ever really felt one or the other. I certainly never thought about pioneering. That’s for certain.

“I don’t really remember feeling resentful either. I suppose because in the countries where I was working, particularly Sweden and then Switzerland and to some extent Italy, I was getting more than enough attention, plenty of acclaim from time to time. I don’t think I ever thought, ‘This should be done in England’. I think I just accepted the fact that I left very, very young, totally unknown as a player and as a coach.

“I was just happy and pleased that I was able to fulfil an ambition to become a coach that was recognised and even appreciated in certain countries. I don’t think I ever looked back and thought, ‘I wish this was in England’, but of course I’m really happy that it’s England now.”

At 66, and having managed all over Europe and further afield, Hodgson has no issue with the travelling, it is just the details that annoy him. He is unhappy with the livery in one of the press rooms at Urca that has a 10-foot picture of him in his FA suit. “If you want to ask the question, ‘Would I want to see it removed?’ the answer is, ‘Absolutely’. But unfortunately there it is.” The doctor, Ian Beasley, has had his work cut out persuading Hodgson to take his malaria pills for Manaus.

The next few days will be shaped by how Welbeck responds, given that he is a likely starter for Hodgson. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will probably be back in time for the Uruguay game next week, but before then Hodgson’s options have already been reduced and if Welbeck is not available either then it will surely be inevitable that Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling will start.

“The team that wins this World Cup won’t necessarily be because of managerial excellence,” he said, “it will be because the team has some very good players and played together well as a team. I’m looking forward to it and I’m determined we will go into the games as well organised as we can possibly be.

“I’ll believe in the players because these are players who are worthy of believing in, but it’s going to be very much a case of what those players can actually do when I show my confidence in them and say that, ‘You’re the man for the job and I think you can help us win this game’. Then they’ve got to get out there and play. It’s players that count at the end of the day.”

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album