England prep going to plan
Ray Lewington thinks England will be the best-prepared team at the World Cup.
- Related Content
Roy Hodgson's most trusted right-hand man will reach the zenith of his career next week when he travels to Brazil as England assistant coach.
Lewington's working relationship with Hodgson began seven years ago when they teamed up at Fulham, where England's assistant started his coaching career as player-manager in 1986.
Back then Fulham were at the foot of Division Three and on the verge of bankruptcy.
They were so poor that the players ate a bowl of cornflakes on the coach as their pre-match meal.
Things have turned full circle for Lewington now. He landed in Miami late on Sunday night as part of an England backroom staff that contains fitness trainers, physios, sports scientists, a nutritionist and world-renowned psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters.
"No other team will be better prepared than us," claimed Lewington as he sat down with the media at St George's Park, the £100million training facility England used before they left for Miami.
The previous week three specialists from Loughborough University joined the squad in the Algarve where the players' sweat levels were tested after a training session in which they wore special padded clothing to simulate the sweaty conditions of Manaus.
"I've never seen any operation like it. We've gone up to a new level for this World Cup," Lewington added.
"I'd be very surprised now if anyone in world football was doing something we are not covering.
"We were always pretty thorough in the coaching. Roy is a stickler for detail. It has to be perfect.
"But then we sat down and said, 'Right, what do we need to do for the World Cup?' and we started looking at everything ... nutrition, the psychiatrist.
"They have sat down with all the best brains - not just in football but across sport - and asked, 'what do you think?'
"The players are tested every day for sweat loss.
"It's an amazing operation when you think back to all that cornflakes and toast stuff. It's a totally different world."
Lewington speaks with immense respect about Dr Peters' CV, he insists the players are hungry for success in Brazil and he says England have the perfect leader on the pitch in Steven Gerrard.
"In the past, just as a supporter of England, it's always been about disappointment," Lewington said.
"What we wanted to do was create a team ethic where we are a little bit closer and we work for each other."
The man at the helm is also up to the challenge, according to his number two.
Hodgson's experience of managing at a World Cup was one of the reasons why he was preferred to Harry Redknapp two years ago when Fabio Capello walked out on England.
The 66-year-old's achievements at Fulham were also a big factor.
When Hodgson took over in December 2007, Fulham were in the relegation zone. Two-and-a-half years later the west Londoners made it to the Europa League final, where they lost to current Primera Division champions Atletico Madrid in extra-time.
"When Roy came to the club, I witnessed what was virtually a football miracle," said Lewington, who was Hodgson's assistant at Craven Cottage for three years.
"I actually saw a team who were going to (be) relegated on the last day - and had hardly won a game all year - turn into a team that finished seventh the following year. And then got to a European final the year after. It was unbelievable and that was with very little money by Premier League standards."
As for Lewington he is excited about writing the next chapter in a career that includes spells at Brentford, Chelsea, Watford, Wimbledon and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
He said: "It is an amazing personal journey. Going to a World Cup is something you think you would never, ever get the opportunity to do. I'm absolutely honoured that I got the chance."