Jeff Stelling had admitted promotion for Pools would top World Cup glory for England – but he’s still going to be cheering the Three Lions every step of the way this summer.
The Club President says he intends to soak up every second of the action from the much-anticipated tournament in Russia, which gets underway on Thursday.
Stelling has backed Gareth Southgate as the man to engineer a successful performance from an exciting England squad as they prepare to face Tunisia in their first game on Monday evening.
But he has sounded a note of caution for those who think Southgate’s men will stroll through the group stages and warned that things are never as straightforward as that on the world stage.
“I will watch pretty much every game,” admitted the Sky Sports Soccer Saturday presenter.
“I’ve heard people saying our group is a pushover, but I think that’s really, really dangerous.
“Tunisia are the top-ranked African side and were fantastic when they came back from 2-0 down a couple of weeks ago against Portugal so they’re dangerous opposition in the first game, and we all know about Belgium.
“In my mind though, there’s no reason we can’t get to the quarter-finals where unfortunately we’ll be playing Germany or Brazil almost certainly – and that might be tricky!
“If somebody offered me the option of Hartlepool getting promotion next season or England winning the World Cup then I’d take the first option every single time!
“But I think we’ve got a good England squad; a really, really good squad in actual fact even though it’s relatively young.
“I like Gareth Southgate a lot and he’s shown he’s his own man in the decisions he’s made with systems and players, and he’s handled the Raheem Sterling thing really, really well.
“People may criticise and say he’s boring – no, he’s not boring, he just realises that most of the attention is going to be on the players and they’re the ones that go out on the field and are going to do the business in the end.
“Virtually all the decisions he’s made seem like the right ones to me so I hope we can go really well under him at the World Cup.”