Roy Hodgson says leading England into Euro 2012 against France is the pinnacle of his career.
England manager Hodgson is excited at the challenge ahead but is braced for criticism should his players fail to impress at the tournament.
"It could be the most terrific three weeks or the most torrid of my career," said Hodgson ahead of Monday's game.
"But I am up for the challenge, otherwise I would never have dreamed of accepting the job."
England arrive in Ukraine on Sunday to conclude preparations for Hodgson's first competitive game since succeeding Fabio Capello in May as their campaign opens in Donetsk's Donbass Arena.
And Hodgson, 64, has made no attempt to disguise his excitement at the task awaiting him after his long career in coaching and management.
Asked if he thought this was his personal pinnacle in the game, he said: "Absolutely. I'm very excited.
"I've been excited from the day the Football Association chairman David Bernstein called me - and through those harrowing two weeks when I was trying to juggle all the things I thought needed to be done to be prepared, as well as being West Bromwich Albion's head coach."
Hodgson is also prepared for the intense scrutiny that comes with the job of England manager, especially at major tournaments.
"This is the top job in English football," he added.
"If it is the most torrid three weeks of my career I hope that it's for the right reasons.
"By that I mean because the players have let myself and the team down very badly, we have played very badly and that fair-minded people watching us are thinking, 'my God what are they doing?'.
"If that does happen, I will learn an awful lot about what I need to do in the coming couple of years to make sure it doesn't happen in Brazil in 2014.
"I can honestly say that's the thing that could make it really torrid for me - if I get a totally different response in the games from what I am expecting to see from these players.
"If they have conned me into thinking I am working with a good bunch here - that this is a bunch who won't let me or the team or the nation down - then suddenly, in three games they really do that, then this would be a real painful blow for me.
"It would be much more painful than if I have to read that I got the team wrong, or I should have picked this player or done that, or that the penalty spot wasn't bright enough."