After a peripatetic 36-year climb, Roy Hodgson will arrive at the summit of his career in Donetsk on Monday when he leads England into their opening Euro 2012 Group D fixture against France. He freely admits he has revelled in the journey. But he is less certain if he will always enjoy the view, or the experience of life at the top.
“I am up for the challenge,” he said. “Of course I am or I would not have taken the job even if I know I am not always going to be happy at the level of scrutiny of all my decisions. “But I am a football man and football has been my life,” he added.
“I have had 36 years of it, at varying levels, and now I am here at the pinnacle. It is the top job in England and I think I know what it is all about. But only a naive person would think that it is all going to be plain sailing....”
A dignified man who was appointed manager on May 1, Hodgson oozed a quiet sense of pride as he reflected on his journey from the Tonbridge Angels to Wembley, via Halmstad, Malmo and Inter Milan, not to mention national service with Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Finland. “The pinnacle? Yes, absolutely, it is the pinnacle for me, he said. I am very excited about this and have been from the day when the chairman called me about the job...
“I had a harrowing two weeks, a difficult time, when I was still head coach at West Bromwich Albion and trying to plan ahead for England, but I have enjoyed every minute.”