England’s drab goalless draw with Costa Rica was a fitting end to their disappointing World Cup, but an experience which Frank Lampard believes will hold the players in good stead moving forwards.
Roy Hodgson’s side saw their place at the bottom of Group D confirmed on Tuesday, with the defeats to Italy and Uruguay compounded by an uninspiring draw at the Estadio Mineirao.
It meant not only did they become the first England side since 1958 to exit at the group stage, but they did so with their lowest ever World Cup points tally.
The Three Lions left for home comforts immediately after the match but not until after getting a wonderful, and rather surprising, ovation from the travelling support in Belo Horizonte.
It was a moment Lampard, captaining England in what could be his last appearance, was touched by and made him confident that they can now kick on, with or without him.
“It was absolutely amazing,” the 36-year-old said. “It made you proud to be an Englishman playing for the country with fans like that.
“From in and around the hotel after we came out here, they followed us and we had it in a good way.
“This morning before and after they were immense. It makes you feel a bit bad we have not given them a longer stay. I am very proud to have a following like that.
“[The young players] see that they back the manager and were singing for him.
“They can see the squad is young and the young players will benefit from this bad experience.
“Let’s not forget we have been knocked out very early but if the fans stick with the younger players and encourage them, they will help the players.”
In truth, England would have won this final match was it not for poor finishing once again.
Daniel Sturridge was particularly poor in front of goal, missing a number of clear-cut chances to give Hodgson’s men a much-needed win.
He should have also had a penalty after a first-half foul by Oscar Duarte, yet the referee waved those appeals for a spot-kick and a red card, further frustrating England.
“It was the end of a disappointing tournament, obviously,” Lampard said of the 0-0 draw.
“We should have won the game as we had the chances. We played some nice stuff, in bits.
“It was a difficult game for us to approach and I thought we did as well as we could but it was a shame not to get the win to take home.
“It was not hard to motivate our ourselves, it was hard to know we were going to get knocked out regardless, so that was the motivation, to do something positive.”
Lampard was unable to have as much of an impact as he would have liked in what was his 106th appearance for England.
The former Chelsea midfielder will not be making any decision on whether he wants to add to that caps haul until after he returns home, yet seems to have a clearer idea as to where his club future lies.
A move to the United States to link up with New York City FC has been widely-mooted, which would see him follow in the footsteps of former international team-mates David Beckham and Jermain Defoe in moving to Major League Soccer.
“I will go home and think about,” Lampard said. “I will decide when I get back. But I have a good idea.”