Former captain Alan Shearer believes England have no chance of winning the 2014 World Cup and are "a million miles away" from the top international sides.
Roy Hodgson's side were knocked out of Euro 2012 by Italy on penalties.
"I don't attach any blame to Roy Hodgson," Shearer told BBC Sport. "But I don't go along with the idea England go home with their heads held high.
"It's no good sitting here saying we will win the World Cup in two years' time. The reality is we will not."
Hodgson's side were beaten by Italy last Sunday after being outclassed in a goalless draw in Kiev.
England's players won plaudits for an improved performance in Poland and Ukraine, after a disastrous World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
Germany coach Joachim Loew - who masterminded a 4-1 thrashing of Fabio Capello's side two years ago - has praised Hodgson's management, and said that "England will develop under him in the next few years."
But Shearer sees a vast gulf in quality between England and the likes of Spain and Loew's Germany side.
"The big thing people have spoken about is the togetherness and work ethic but if you just want 11 guys to go out and work hard, I can find you 11 men from Newcastle city centre who will work their socks off," he said.
"That has to be a given, whether at a club or even more so for an international team.
"We are a million miles away from the top sides. Heads held high? Do you think France will go home to that reception?
"It's a sign of how far behind we are now that we can go home and say we can hold our heads up high for getting into the quarter finals."
The Football Association recently voted in proposals for youth coaching which include smaller-sided games on smaller pitches with smaller goals.
But Shearer believes any progress on the international stage will need a vast improvement in the coaching culture of the country, which could take years.
He said: "We have got to get out of the habit of going to tournaments thinking we can win it. This tournament has proven that. We need a change in culture and to be fair to the FA they are trying to change things now.
"It's going to take time to put these systems in place. Our league is the best in the world for entertainment but only because it is full of foreigners."
Fellow England international and BBC Sport pundit Lee Dixon also called for changes.
"Let's remind ourselves where we were two years ago under Capello," he said. "We have come on, the team was an absolute shambles. We have repaired that but we haven't moved forwards football-wise.
"If you go and watch how they teach kids to play football on the continent, they are all doing it a different way to us. And we are not progressing, so they must be doing it right.
"It's not rocket science."