Matthew Upson believes a stronger bond has been formed in the England camp en route to reaching the World Cup knock-out stages.
Upson and company left it late to book their place in the next round but produced a committed display in the 1-0 win over Slovenia on Wednesday.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium victory came after a slow start to the tournament in which former captain John Terry sparked talk of rifts within the squad with his outspoken comments regarding performances and results in the opening two games against the United States and Algeria.
Upson, though, is confident the rumour and speculation surrounding the Three Lions camp in recent days will simply serve to strengthen their resolve.
"You can use all those things and use all the rumours and all the accusations as fuel to improve and succeed and get tighter together," said the West Ham centre-back.
"That's something we have improved on as a team and I think we can still get better at it, as we can in a lot of other areas.
"It's the key to winning, for me. Forget everything else, tactics, the lot - it is about you as human beings and people and what you are willing to commit and your attitude, and I thought we did that really well."
Beat the best
England's joy was partially tempered by the news of the USA's late winner against the Algerians in Pretoria, a goal which saw them top the group and pitch Capello's men into a potentially epic battle with old rivals Germany in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
Asked if it mattered his side had not won Group C, Upson replied: "To me it doesn't, personally.
"Some people say you need the best route to the final, which you would agree with - you want to play as weak teams as you can.
"But eventually, you are going to have to beat the best teams and Sunday will be a great opportunity for us to go into another situation where it is a win-only opportunity.
"That doesn't bother me."