Former Three Lions manager takes first job since shock defeat to Iceland and is confident he can turn things around
ROY HODGSON knows it will never really go away.
That night in Nice, when Iceland caused one of the biggest upsets in tournament history to knock England out of Euro 2016.
Even when he tries to forget, someone is always on hand to remind him.
Like yesterday, when Hodgson was formally unveiled as Crystal Palace’s boss before his first game against Southampton.
England’s former head coach said: “Of course I’ve watched the game back but not for about 14 months and I don’t want to watch it again.
“It’s got no relevance to my work now. I’m not interested in Iceland. It is a past chapter and who cares? A lot of Palace fans, the people who interest me, will want to know about their team.
“There might be people in Carlisle who would like to know, but I’m south London now, I’m Beckenham.
“Matches are lost when you’re a football coach, particularly in tournament football, and the tournament is over.
“I enjoyed my time with England, a huge honour. I have very good memories of those times, the people and players I worked with.
“But it’s over. That time has gone. That chapter is finished. It’s Crystal Palace, Crystal Palace, Crystal Palace now.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity to come along but I’ve used the time to have a good few sessions in the gym.”
He looks better for it. Less stress, less tension, less hostility.
Hodgson is in the firing line again after being parachuted in to replace axed Dutchman Frank de Boer.
He has taken over a side playing catch-up in the Premier League after losing their opening four games.
There is anxiety and anguish, which Hodgson accepts as he prepares to take charge of his first game since his England exit following that miserable night in France.
He looked shredded on the touchline that evening as goals from Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson pulled off the biggest win in Iceland’s history, a 2-1 triumph over one of the pre-tournament favourites.
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Hodgson said: “It would have been unusual if I had not felt shattered that day. Myself and my coaching staff cared very deeply, but I’m not that interested any more.
“To lose in the way we did against a team many thought we should have beaten was a bad day. I’ve had lots of time to get my mind back on track and it didn’t take me a year. It took less.”
During that year he spent time lecturing for Uefa and helping to mentor Michael Valkanis, the coach at Melbourne City in Australia’s A-League.
But what he really wanted was another chance, at the age of 70, to show that he is still a top-class managerial mind.
That chance has arrived — and his career has come full circle, returning to his south London roots and the club where he started his football journey as a young Palace fan.
He added: “This is a great opportunity, working with this group of players, back in Croydon and back in the Premier League. My only thought was ‘how soon can I start?’”
His first Palace game as a fan was under the Selhurst Park lights in 1961 in a prestige friendly against Real Madrid.
Southampton do not quite have the same pedigree but they are Hodgson’s first challenge before the Eagles go on to play both Manchester clubs, plus Chelsea, in successive matches.
He added: “We’ve had a bad start and we’ve handicapped ourselves by not taking any points from the first four games. Our focus is on May, not the end of September. Leagues aren’t won or teams relegated in September.”