DAN Fox says England's hockey team has what it takes to be the best in the globe - despite a disappointing end to their World Cup campaign.
The European champions missed out on a bronze medal after last Sunday's agonising 4-3 defeat to the Netherlands in Delhi, a game they led 3-1 at one stage.
It was rough on England and Fox, who plays in defence for Hampstead & Westminster, particularly after a dream start to the competition in which they beat eventual world champions Australia in the group stages.
Wins over India (3-2), South Africa (6-4) and Pakistan (5-2) secured a semi-final clash with Germany, who proved too strong in last Thursday's 4-1 win.
Despite returning home without a medal, Fox, who was drafted into the squad as a late replacement for the injured Simon Mantell, is still on cloud nine.
He made his World Cup debut in the win over South Africa and was largely used as a sub throughout the campaign.
He started in England's final pool B defeat to Spain (2-0).
"It was a shock to the system when I got the call to go out there, as I'd resigned myself to the idea I wasn't going to be a part of it," said the 27-year-old geography teacher.
"Normally, I would have been playing in front of 20 people for my club, but I was watching us beat Australia in front of 15,000 people.
"To have not won a medal was disappointing, but it was a fantastic experience."
Fox will be more of the silver-haired variety, in sportsman's terms anyway, if he fulfils his dream of playing in the next Hockey World Cup in 2014.
There, he believes England can wrest the world title from the Aussies, but first things first.
"To finish in the top four was a great achievement and this is a major step if we are to be successful at the 2012 Olympics," he added.
"We were ranked outside the top 10 before and now we're one of the top four or five sides in the world.
"I've now got to make sure I'm in the 16-man squad for these games in the future - I'd rather be in the starting XI than on the bench.
"Now I've been to one World Cup, I've got a taste for it.
"At 31, I would be one of the oldest members of the squad [for 2014 World Cup], but I believe we have a good chance of winning it."
Fox, who has taught at North London Collegiate School for five years, is now hoping to help his club finish the season on a high before heading to Germany with Team GB for the Hockey Champions Trophy in July.
"We're doing much better than we have for the past two or three years," he added. "It's a massive club and we've got to build on the progress we've made next season."