The blink of an eye

Returning from Sao Paulo after the defeat to Uruguay was a forgettable experience, and a stark contrast to the hope and belief that was visible right across the England set-up when we took off from Luton Airport three weeks ago.

While this is my first tournament working inside the senior team camp, I’ve been to three World Cups as a fan and also travelled with the Under-21s to four successive European Championships. Going out of the tournament – any tournament – is heartbreaking.

When Wayne Rooney bagged a well-deserved goal against Uruguay, I thought there was only going to be one winner. The team pressed on looking for a win, sensing their opponents were on the ropes, and even had a couple more chances. 

Luis Suarez heads past Joe Hart

Suarez puts Uruguay in front

Football can change in the blink of an eye, though. I’d literally just looked at the clock thinking that we’d get another couple of chances in the final five minutes and could nick the points. But the keeper’s punt forward dropped to Suarez and his second goal was like a stake through the heart.

Though mathematically there were still slim hopes of qualification, it was clearly no consolation as some of the lads were in tears, or close to them, when they walked through the press mixed zone after the game. 

Boarding the plane back to Rio, it was evident just how upset everyone was. A hotel with 23 football players in has possibly never been quieter.

There was so much belief that this team could achieve something in Brazil, and it wasn’t based simply on the qualities of the players. Their desire to succeed, coupled with the excellent preparation and brilliant togetherness, gave me confidence.

As Roy said, though, we needed to win the games, and two narrow defeats against top-ten opposition left us short. That can be football sometimes. Over a course of a 38 game season you can get away with a couple of early losses. Not at the World Cup.

Wayne Rooney has back Roy Hodgson to lead England forward

Hart and Rooney were devastated to go out of the World Cup

The coaches will have analysed the defeats and will work on what went wrong and build on the positives.

And there were certainly some things to be hopeful about. Our attacking play was enjoyable to watch, and with a bit more experience that group could really go on to do well.

They desperately wanted to prove to the nation just how much they care about wearing the England shirt – and I know people who understand the game will realise this. 

There is still one game left against the Group D surprise package Costa Rica and the players want to fly home with their heads held high and at least a victory under their belts.

And then it’s about the next two-year cycle and the Euro qualifiers in September, when the Road to France in 2016 begins.

Read more from Jamie inside the England camp or follow him on Twitter @jamiebradbury