Roy Hodgson paid tribute to the work done by Chris Coleman after England were drawn against Wales in the Euro 2016 group stage.
England will open their campaign against Russia before taking on Coleman’s men and Slovakia in Group B in France next year.
Hodgson has enjoyed Wales’ development during the last two years and believes they have established a strong team unit around key players Ashley Williams, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale.
“It’s been exciting following their progress,” the England manager told the BBC of Coleman’s side.
“We know their players because they all basically play in England, but we know the team is well organised, they have a fantastic team spirit and a fantastic spine. In Ashley Williams, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale they have really class European players. Chris has moulded the rest of the players around that well.
“But we have respect for the other teams as well. You’re just happy to be here to play against somebody. You take what you get, really.
“I’ve not come across either Russia or Slovakia in my international career so it’s two newcomers, but we respect them and it’s a question of doing plenty of research so we know enough about them as we think we do about Wales.”
Coleman said prior to the draw that he would have preferred to avoid the distraction of facing neighbours England next year but he insists his side will relish facing a team which won all 10 of their qualifying matches.
“It’s going to be a great game,” the Wales boss said. “Roy, the campaign they had, it was a fantastic return. You’re looking at a lot of teams with a lot of quality. England are one of the best teams but we look forward to it.
“When you get to a tournament you’ve got to get it right on the 90 minutes. It doesn’t matter who you play, you’ve got to concentrate on yourselves. Slovakia have beaten Spain, Russia will be strong. You’ve got to be prepared, be ready.
“I was so honoured and proud to be here. We’re all patriotic, just to be here involved is absolutely fantastic. I’m very excited. There’s some hot competition, all the top teams have earned the right to be here. It’ll be a fantastic tournament.”