Roy Hodgson had just missed out on Euro 2008 qualification with Finland when Mohamed Al-Fayed made him Fulham boss in 2007, yet it was still considered a somewhat left-field appointment at the time.
Now, with Three Lions fans in a feel-good frenzy after England booked their place at the 2014 World Cup a reappraisal of the former Harrods owner seems overdue.
Ungrateful Cottagers that sent back their former chairman’s final gift of a colourful Michael Jackson statue should think twice before banishing the Egyptian’s memory from their club.
Martin Jol’s side are hovering above the Premier League drop-zone under new owner Shahid Khan and need to justify slight 8/5 favouritism at fellow strugglers Crystal Palace to get their season on track.
Despite two successful tournament qualifying campaigns with Switzerland, Hodgson’s England claims were ignored in 2007.
The current national team boss has already managed a country at a World Cup having taken the Swiss team to USA ’94 and qualified for the last 16 – where they were eliminated by Spain – after a win, a draw and a loss in the group stage.
Hodgson missed out on a trip to his mother country despite qualifying with Switzerland for Euro ’96 as he accepted the top job at Inter Milan after the Rossocrociati booked their place in England.
The Three Lions’ loss was Fulham’s gain as the Croydon native guided the west Londoners to their highest ever Premier League finish.
After steering a Fulham side that were in the Premier League relegation zone when he took over in December 2007 to safety, Hodgson began the process of rebuilding their squad, bringing in key players such as keeper MarK Schwarzer, midfielder Zoltan Gera and striker Bobby Zamora.
At one stage in the 2008/09 season Fulham went on a ten-game unbeaten run in the Premier League and climbed into their highest ever finishing position of seventh, qualifying for Europe in the process.
Hodgson led the Cottagers to the final of the Europa League, emulating his achievement at Inter Milan 12 years earlier.
The England gaffer surprised many when he took lowly Fulham to within a kick of Europa League glory in 2010 when they were beaten in the final by Atletico Madrid in extra time, but eagle-eyed Al-Fayed would have been aware of his acolyte’s prowess in the competition before hiring him.
In 1997 Hodgson led a team containing Javier Zanetti, Youri Djorkaeff and Paul Ince to what was then known as the UEFA Cup final and also missed out after a narrow defeat on penalties against Schalke.