After the low of failing to qualify for Euro '08, England ran off eight straight wins to win Europe's Group 6.
The person responsible for England's recovery is Fabio Capello, a no-nonsense Italian with a long history of success as a coach at AC Milan, Juventus, Roma and Real Madrid.
"We've come a very long way under the manager," midfield stalwart Frank Lampard told the Mirror recently . "Our confidence was rock bottom from not qualifying [for Euro 2008]. For England not to qualify for a major tournament, I know it's happened quite a few times over the years, but it is a low point. We're a top nation with top players and we should be qualifying."
England captain John Terry isn't yet guaranteeing World Cup success. After all, England has advanced to the semifinals of the World Cup only once - Italia '90 - since winning the World Cup at home in 1966.
"We've got huge improvements to make all over the field, in defense and going forward," said the Chelsea defender, "and I'm sure the manager in the next few games will try different things."
Besides a core of stars - Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Terry and Lampard - most jobs are up for grabs.
Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham should make the team but faces stiff competition on the right side of midfield, where Tottenham's Aaron Lennon has stood out recently.
Robert Green (West Ham)
David James (Portsmouth)
Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
Rio Ferdinand (Man. United)
Glen Johnson (Liverpool)
Matt Upson (West Ham)
John Terry (Chelsea)
Gareth Barry (Man. City)
David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Aaron Lennon (Tottenham)
Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)
Emile Heskey (Aston Villa)
Wayne Rooney (Man. United)