Stand-in England Under-21 coach Sammy Lee believes victory over Holland in Alkmaar should be credited to Peter Taylor, despite the part-time boss stepping aside for the friendly.
Taylor is concentrating on club matters at struggling Championship side Crystal Palace and was unable to take the squad for the clash at the DSB Stadion.
Justin Hoyte scored the only goal of the game in the 12th minute as England defeated the current European Championship holders.
Taylor has guided England to the next finals tournament - which is to be held in Holland next year - and Lee experienced the club atmosphere that has been forged.
'It's just a vindication of what Peter Taylor has engendered here - a great team spirit,' Lee said.
'They've given the biggest gee-up for Peter Taylor that he could ever have. He can go away, leave it for one game, and he knows when he comes back it's going to be safe for him.
'It's all credit to Peter that they dug in, this has to be the closest thing to a club side in international football.'
As well as qualification, a number of Taylor's players have made the step up to the senior team, including Micah Richards and Kieran Richardson in the current squad.
Lee said: 'When you have a performance like that it gives everyone encouragement, when you get something like that the youngsters can think 'yeah, we have got something coming up, we can step up and move on'.
'It only bodes well for the future of English football.'
He added: 'I'd have no problems if they stepped up,' Lee said. 'There's a good nucleus of players who wouldn't embarrass themselves if they stepped up.
'It's good for Steve McClaren that he call on them whenever he feels fit. That's a credit to the depth of English football.'
A player Lee got a good look at while in the backroom staff of the seniors was Theo Walcott, who was taken to the World Cup in the summer but famously not used.
The Arsenal teenager was taken off for the last eight minutes in Alkmaar after receiving a knock to his hand.
'He got his hand trodden on and couldn't feel his arm early on, but it's too early to assess now,' Lee said. 'He's got a lot more feeling in arm now. That was the downside to the win.'
David Nugent played as a lone striker and his toil had a hand in Hoyte's winner.
The Preston forward dashed down the right flank and although nothing immediately came of his work, Hoyte chased down a pass-back and blocked Boy Waterman's clearance before lifting the ball over the goalkeeper.
England restricted the hosts to long range efforts after that, with stand-in skipper Tom Huddlestone - replacing the injured Nigel Reo-Coker - shielding the defence.
'It was a captain's performance in a very, very solid team performance,' said Lee of the Tottenham midfielder.
Lee, who was touted as a full-time boss for the under-21s when McClaren first took charge of the seniors, now returns to Bolton where he is assistant manager.
'I need it to be stressed, I am perfectly happy at Bolton, I've pledged my future to the club,' he said.
'I was stepping in at Peter's request and the FA came along and asked me to fulfil that request. It was a great privilege to do that.'
He added: 'I've got a manager who is second to none who has allowed me to do this. 'There was talk in the summer, but they've said it's one game and it's not a problem.
'We've got a job to do at Bolton, all I can say it was a privilege and a really enjoyable experience.'