Well I mean it's relative right. They're among the top footballing nations for sure. Are they among the elite? No, definitely not, but a lot of the belief is media driven and based on their domestic league (which comprises largely of top foreign players) popularity. They're definitely not fodder -- they consistently qualify among the top of the European teams. They've won a World Cup (which is more than most nations can say as only 8 different teams have won it, France has also only won it once, and it's not like it was an easy team to beat). Even if you look at the teams that have knocked them out at various stages in international competition: 1968 - Yugoslavia (runners up) 1970 - West Germany (3rd place) 1986 - Argentina (eventual winners) 1990 - West Germany (eventual winners, lost in PKs) 1996 - Germany (eventual winners, lost in PKs) 2002 - Brazil (eventual winners, lost 2-1) 2004 - Portugal (runners up, lost in PKs controversial game) 2006 - Potugal (lost in PKs again) 2012 - Italy (runners up) So I mean it's not like England are bombing out to just anybody most of the time, and they're competitive games. I think the pressure of the media definitely does a lot to the players/managers. But they've had enough success and generally walk through qualifying to be considered a top international team. So I guess it depends on your definition of a top international team but they're far from fodder, and I don't really think there's 2 tiers above them.