Wayne Rooney believes “this could be the year” for England to match the heroes of 1966 and triumph at the World Cup.
The former England skipper has joined DC United and looks set to spend the rest of his playing career in Major League Soccer.
He made his last England appearance in November 2016, since when the team have been transformed under the leadership of Gareth Southgate.
With the likes of Germany, Argentina and European champions Portugal already out, Rooney senses an opportunity.
He said: “There’s some big teams gone out of the World Cup and this could be the year England can go far and hopefully win it.”
Personnel and tactical changes have been introduced by Southgate, and Rooney believes the signs are promising as England prepare to tackle Colombia in the second round on Tuesday.
Defeat to Belgium in their third group game on Thursday may not prove costly for England, as it means they arguably have a more straightforward route to the semi-finals.
England last reached the semi-finals in 1990, and reached their only final on home soil in 1966, beating West Germany 4-2 to lift the trophy.
Speaking about England’s new breed on US broadcaster Fox, Rooney said: “I think certainly the first two games they were excellent.
“It’s been refreshing to see a lot of young players, a lot of energy, a lot of high pressing, and they’re scoring goals and exciting as well.
“It’s an exciting time to be an England fan.
“The game against Belgium was a bit of a game which probably no-one wanted to win. Losing the game might actually benefit England to go further in the World Cup, to be on the right side of the draw which I believe they are.”