England's World Cup place Roy Hodgson's proudest moment

Qualification feels great - Hodgson

Roy Hodgson said reaching next summer's World Cup in Brazil was his proudest moment in football after England secured qualification

Goals from Wayne Rooney and captain Steven Gerrard ensured that England topped Group H to qualify.

Hodgson, 66, who guided Switzerland to the 1994 World Cup in America, said: "I think it will top the lot.

"I'm English. As an Englishman, it means a little bit more to you."

He added: "The only reason I'm cautious is I don't want to denigrate other achievements, or people in Switzerland, to think I wasn't very proud of that achievement and that team."

England had only beaten San Marino and Moldova before this week, but two good performances and wins against and then Poland ensured that the Three Lions qualified for their fifth consecutive World Cup finals.

They finished the campaign unbeaten and top of Group H with 22 points from 10 games, a point ahead of second-placed Ukraine. Their record of just four goals conceded was the equal second best in the European qualification, behind Spain.

Hodgson had admitted before Tuesday's game that and said he was relieved his team had not let the country down.

"I don't think you can help but feel the pressure because we know how important it is to so many people," Hodgson said.

"I died a thousand deaths every time Poland crossed the halfway line, which is what you do, but I do think this team is growing now.

England players excited by Brazil

"England's a very big football nation. So many people are desperate to see England participate and hopefully do well in a World Cup so we knew that it was on our shoulders to make certain that we didn't disappoint them.

"The pressure is always from the outside and it weighs upon you because you know that you sometimes need that little bit of luck."

New Football Association chairman Greg Dyke effectively dismissed England's hopes of winning next year's tournament shortly after his appointment - but buoyant manager Hodgson will travel in hope.

Brazil will open the tournament in Sao Paulo on 12 June 2014, with the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday 13 July.

The draw for the World Cup takes place in Bahia, Brazil, on 6 December. England have little chance of being seeded given their current world ranking of 17 and so could be grouped with the hosts.

Hodgson said: "First of all you've always got a chance. It is the old thing about if you want to win the lottery you have to buy a lottery ticket.

"We have got our ticket so that in itself is good.

"But as yet in all the years of World Cup football no European team has ever won in South America. If we do that we'll be really pushing the boat out."

Hodgson has become only the sixth Englishman to guide his country into the finals.

A home friendly with Germany next month is expected to be announced imminently, with a second November match to be sorted out as well.

Opponents for the March 5 date ringfenced in the FIFA calendar are not expected to be organised until after the finals draw in December.

"I'll use the next six or seven months to reflect on it," Hodgson said. "There'll be a lot of pressure on us, but this team is growing in accepting pressure.

"The blend between the senior and young players looks good. But the important thing was to do the job.

"It sounded easy: two home matches, win them, no problems. But anyone involved in football knows it's not as easy as that. The important thing for us is to keep working at our game."