Frank Lampard has thanked Fabio Capello for helping England players lose the fear of failure which undermined previous campaigns.
Capello arrived following the unsuccessful attempt to reach Euro 2008 under Steve McClaren and England never got past the quarter-final stage of a major finals under Sven-Goran Eriksson, but there is a new optimism with Capello in charge.
Players have spoken before about a culture of negativity around the national team until this season when they have recorded five wins out of five in World Cup qualifiers.
Chelsea midfielder Lampard said: "I think everyone is confident when we go and play for our clubs every week. But there became a period of time when we were not performing for our country as a group and didn't get the right results.
"Obviously we became less confident in an England shirt. The new manager coming in has helped with that and individuals are starting to get more confident in an England shirt."
Evidence of England's new-found confidence came when, after Ukraine had equalised at Wembley, the hosts fought back and grabbed a winner through John Terry.
"You might not have seen that recovery a couple of years ago," Lampard said.
"I think there is more confidence around the team which breeds from results and performances over the last 12 months.
"The majority of results and performances have been pretty good. We are very together as a group and have got a more confident outlook in ourselves.
"Capello has altered the mentality of the squad, changing the mood around the camp to get the best out of England's players.
"We always knew it was in us, it was just a case of getting it out of us," Lampard said.
"The individuals have never been doubted in the squad because they perform so well in the league and at Champions League level.
"It is just a case of getting it together and moving in the right direction. It took us a fair bit of time to get there. We are by no means there yet because there is a long way to go to be exactly where we want to be.
"But we have moved on a lot and we will have to continue doing that."
Lampard now wants England to seal qualification as soon as possible - they next face Kazakhstan and Andorra in June - so they can fully prepare for the tournament in South Africa.
"If we can keep this form up and keep the results up, we will be qualified by the final game and everyone can relax and look forward to the tournament," he said.
The mood is totally different to last year when England were facing a summer without a major tournament.
Lampard added: "It certainly wasn't a lack of hunger. The players were devastated not to reach the Euros, if not embarrassed because we knew we had the players to get there.
"We desperately wanted to get there but didn't perform well enough, it was as simple as that. We have got the same hunger but are showing it in a better way now."