Wayne Rooney is proud of the way England’s inexperienced players shone in Switzerland and rated it the team’s best performance since last year’s win over Brazil.
This has been a long, testing summer for the Three Lions, whose miserable World Cup campaign led to an understandably downbeat mood.
There were promising signs on Monday night, though, with Roy Hodgson’s men beginning their road to redemption by kicking off their European Championship qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win against much-fancied Switzerland.
Danny Welbeck’s two goals secured what captain Rooney believes was a richly deserved three points from England’s most accomplished showing since overcoming Brazil 2-1 at Wembley in February 2013.
“The result, I thought, was the most important thing,” Rooney said.
“Obviously we wanted to play well and wanted a good performance, but I think it was vital we didn’t lose.
“We knew that and I also thought we played really well. We stuck to our game plan, we created chances, maybe could have been a couple of goals up at half-time.
“I think it is probably our best performance since Brazil at home, at Wembley, but we have to keep going, have to keep working.
“We are a young team and there were still some things out there that we could have done better and a few sloppy mistakes at times, but we’ll work on that.
“We’re a young team but we’re progressing and hopefully we can continue.”
While Rooney won his 97th cap at St Jakob-Park, the rest of the side lined up with just 186 appearances between them.
They did not shirk any responsibilities, playing with a maturity beyond their years and experience as they secured victory.
“We have worked hard and, to be fair, the players have taken a lot of responsibility,” Rooney said.
“We have had meetings among ourselves, just players in the rooms, watching videos and discussing how we can do better as a team.
“Obviously the manager gives us our game plan, but because we don’t spend that much time together as a team we need to know and feel confident in what we’re doing as a team together.
“In the meetings, you’re having the players speak up who wouldn’t normally speak up when coaches are there.
“They’ve been good and I think the players have really stood up. We’ve worked hard.”
An outstanding performer in Basle was deep-lying midfielder Fabian Delph, starting his first match for England having only made his debut as a second-half substitute against Norway last week.
Delph was booked early on and looked in danger of a red card at one stage, but grew in composure and presence as the game progressed.
“He was brilliant,” Rooney said of the Aston Villa midfielder. “His energy, he took the ball. Early on he had to be a bit careful.
“The referee said to me at half-time to have a word with him, but I think he knew anyway.