Joe Hart accepts England’s impeccable qualifying record will count for little if they fail to perform at the Euro 2016 finals in France.
England will qualify for a major tournament with a 100 per cent record for the first time in history if they beat Estonia and Lithuania in their final two qualifiers over the coming days.
England are the only nation to boast a record of eight qualifying wins from eight and are unbeaten in 13 matches overall.
Hart, however, knows England will only be rated as a top side if they perform well at the finals in France next summer.
“We’re creating something good, but the real test is at the tournament. It’s all very well getting results in qualification – we’ve done that for years – but it’s about doing well in a tournament,” the 54-cap goalkeeper said.
England have flopped in all three tournaments for which Hart has been selected.
In 2010, they were humbled by Germany in the second round – and they were eliminated by Italy on penalties at the same stage in 2012.
And then last year, Hart was part of the England team that crashed out of the World Cup without a win.
“Our ultimate aim is to go to the tournament next year and win it, but talk is cheap, as we’ve seen in the past,” Hart added.
“I’ve felt we could win every tournament I’ve been to, but we didn’t. We’re talking about world-class level sport where there are other teams who prepare very well and their whole lives revolve around winning it. It’s difficult, but it’s down to us.
“We’ve got no excuses in terms of preparation and being put in the right place.
“We’ve won all our qualifying games and we’re going to look to win the tournament.”
Hart keen to play
Hart sat out Manchester City’s defeat against Tottenham two weeks ago because of a finger injury, but the 28-year-old is happy to play in both Friday’s game against Estonia and the trip to Lithuania three days later.
“There are still decisions to be made, but I personally want to play every game,” he said.
Hart has also been playing with a back injury of late but insists the problem is not serious.
“I had a problem earlier in the week,” Hart said. “I think everyone plays through something.
“I’m flying around and smashing off the floor every day, that’s me and every now and then it’s going to happen.”
After England’s final two qualifiers, they will come up against stiffer tests.
The Football Association has set up friendlies against France and Spain in November, as well as an away trip to Germany in March.
It is possible the FA will take England away from Wembley to another home stadium for at least one other friendly before the European Championship begins.
Hart says the players would accept such a move.
“We’d have no complaints,” the City stopper said.
“You hear the old line that you’d do anything to play for England. I’d be happy to play anywhere for England.
“I love playing at Wembley Stadium but I love the Premier League and the different grounds and all the atmospheres they offer.
“If that would give us a better chance then that is something I would be open to.”