Prime Minister David Cameron led the praise for England after they secured qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley.
Goals from Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard ensured that Roy Hodgson's side finished top of their group.
Cameron said: "Proud to see England qualify for the World Cup in Brazil."
Ex-England captain Rio Ferdinand added: "Qualifying campaign completed....on to Brazil!"
England needed a victory at Wembley to guarantee a place in next year's finals as nearest rivals Ukraine, who took second spot, thrashed San Marino.
Hodgson's side ended the campaign one point ahead of Ukraine, who now face a play-off to qualify for the finals.
England last failed to qualify for the World Cup in the United States in 1994 and went into the final two qualifiers with their fate in their own hands.
An impressive 4-1 win over Montenegro on Friday and Tuesday's 2-0 win over Poland sealed the Three Lions' spot in Brazil.
Terry Butcher, who captained England when they reached the 1990 World Cup semi-finals, said on ITV: "I'm shattered. That's the longest 90 minutes of my life.
"It was on a knife edge and one goal from Poland could have made it a different story.
"But Captain Marvel (Gerrard) has taken us all the way to Brazil."
Former England defender Phil Neville, whose brother Gary is one of Hodgson's assistants, said: "Great England performance, the best I've seen in a long time. Energy, pace, positive attacking play!!"
Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has played a part in England's qualification campaign but missed the final games against Montenegro and Poland through injury.
He said on Twitter: "Get in there you beauty! Well in boys!"
Liverpool defender Glen Johnson, another to miss out injured, wrote: "Well done lads! Big result. Brazil here we come."
Former England striker Michael Owen, who played in three World Cup finals, added: "Well done Roy and the boys. Job done," while former goalkeeper Nigel Martyn said: "Well done Roy Hodgson, well done England. They have played these last two games with real passion and tempo."