Roy Hodgson said it was an "unbelievably hard" decision to leave Ashley Cole out of his World Cup squad.
The England manager chose to include Southampton's 18-year-old left back Luke Shaw instead of the experienced 33-year-old Chelsea player.
Cole subsequently announced his retirement from international football as he wished England success at the tournament.
"It was an unbelievably hard decision because Ashley is a player I and the rest of my staff really appreciate. I think he is a magnificent player and what he has done for England is second to none," Hodgson said.
The 66-year-old said he was grateful for Ashley Cole's acceptance of the decision.
These maps show the spread of birthplaces of England's last three World Cup squads.
The Three Lions boss has largely rewarded Premier League form in a youthful-looking squad for the tournament in Brazil. See the full squad: