Hodgson: Character is vital

England manager Roy Hodgson looks on
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Following yesterday's instalment which saw the England manager discuss his appointment, Brazil 2014 and helping to create a lasting legacy, the second part of this exclusive interview focuses on Hodgson himself.

The former Inter Milan and Liverpool manager talks about readjusting to life as an international boss, his need to be surrounded by players of 'good character' and the troubles he has relaxing.

FIFA.com: Your career has flitted between club and international teams. How have you found the readjustment? Roy Hodgson: Very easily – simply because I’ve had experience of it before. I think also as you get older, 36 to 37 years is a long time to be in coaching, the job of leading a team doesn’t change that much. What changes are the obvious circumstances that with a national team you have longer periods and each game is more of a major event, and there are lots of other calls upon your time in representing your association, whereas club football is much more hands-on with the players on a daily basis. I’ve enjoyed the hands-on on a daily basis with the club football but the bulk of my 37 years has been in club football so it’s never been a hardship to have a spell where you don’t get that daily contact, knowing full well that when you do get contact you’re working with the very best that the country has to offer. You have tremendous facilities and tremendous help to do any sort of training sessions you want to do.

*How important is character in international football? *Character is vital in every aspect of life. Speak to any football manager, he’ll always tell you he wants good characters around him – but that's easier said than done. Half the time when you’re recruiting players at a club, you don’t really know their characters until you’ve worked with them for a while. By that time it’s too late because you might, on the basis of what you’ve seen from the stand and what you’ve researched, be signing someone that when you’ve been working with him for a couple of months turns out to be a slightly different person. By then it’s too late because he’s got a two-, three-, four-year contract with the club and you’re stuck with him whether you like him or not. To some extent it’s easier for us at national level. We get to work with them, see them and live with them for a few days so you’ve got a slightly better idea than often you have as a club manager. That’s an advantage we get – we get some sort of sense. Is this the right sort of man? Does he share our values, our passion, our enthusiasm? Is he prepared to put his body on the line? During the EURO, I’m not certain we played the best football that we could ever play. The players thought they were capable of better. But the one thing you certainly can’t question is the character of the players – the desire, loyalty and wish.

Character is vital in every aspect of life. Speak to any football manager, he’ll always tell you he wants good characters around him – but that's easier said than done.

*What do you enjoy doing to relax away from the England job? *I don’t think you ever do, the scrutiny unfortunately is always there. I used to enjoy travelling, still do I suppose, but it’s not like it was in the past because you get recognised so much more because the England football job is an important job. It’s not something I’m complaining about. If I do anything I read, if the weather is good I’ll play golf but very rarely these days. I’m hoping, come the spring, I might get some games of golf in to relax a little bit. I still enjoy the travelling, I do a lot of that with the job but if I do have a few moments spare I still like to travel with my wife, go to different places. Unfortunately, if you get such a high-powered job as the one I’ve been given here, it’s a little bit unrealistic to think you can compartmentalise your life. You don’t do it as a club coach and you certainly don’t do it as a national coach, because you belong to the people and to some extent you have a duty to the people. When people ask me for autographs or photographs, I feel that’s part of my job to do that. If it makes them a little bit happier, if it increases their interest in English football and the English national team, it’s my job to do that.

*Where have you been at your happiest during your 37 years? *I don’t know. There have been one or two places where I’ve not been terribly happy but for the bulk of them I’ve found some degree of happiness. It’s dangerous to start talking in those ways because you always tend to look back to the distant past and glorify it - the summers were hotter and you were a happier person. I tend to not want to do that. I’m happy where I am now, I’ve been happy since coming back to England in the places I’ve worked. But I was happy before that as well, in other countries. I suppose I’ve got to consider myself one of those lucky people whose career has taken him to very interesting places, where I’ve been well received, made a lot of good friends, good contacts, many acquaintances. I tend not to want to compare them too much and suggest ‘this was the best’ and ‘this was the happiest’. I’m not even sure. In all places, football gives you happy moments and unhappy moments.

*Asian readers of FIFA.com know all about your good relationship with Bob Houghton. Do you think he is one of the most underrated English coaches there has been? *Without a shadow of a doubt. We were very close friends, we spent a large part of our lives together for 12 years plus. I went to South Africa through Bob because he got the job there and took me over as a player. He didn’t stay that long at the club he took me to, he moved on and went to play at another club. After a year he moved to Sweden and after two very successful years as a coach he was asked to recommend somebody like himself. We were blood brothers, really, and he recommended me. He set me off on my career in Sweden and for years we were pretty inseparable. Then I went to Bristol City with him so he was a major influence on my career and the guy who started it off, in terms of the travelling via South Africa and getting me the job in Halmstads. They took a chance on me and the rest is history!

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