Captain Michael Vaughan described England's performance as "incredible" after they clinched a 2-1 Ashes triumph against Australia at The Oval.
"It's been an emotional summer of cricket, fantastic for the game. I can't praise the players and management enough," he commented.
"We've had a bit of luck because we've won a few tosses and batted first on four occasions.
"But I think we deserved the luck with the amount of hard work we've put in."
Australia were in with a chance of the victory they needed to retain the Ashes when they reduced England to 67-3 and 126-5 on the final day.
But they paid a heavy price for dropping Kevin Pietersen, who went on to make 158.
"They were three fantastic deliveries which got the first three wickets. We said to the lads just hang in there, try and make them get us out," said Vaughan.
"Kevin Pietersen took the game away from them with an incredible innings under so much pressure in only his fifth game. He's a real talent, someone that we're delighted to have in our team.
"But full credit to Australia and the part they've played in a fantastic series. Ricky Ponting's team have made us fight all the way.
"We had to dig deep on numerous occasions but our team has been fantastic and the way they've risen to the challenges has been incredible."
Vaughan also praised the home crowds for their vocal and enthusiastic support during the summer.
"The support we have received over the last eight weeks has been incredible for the game of cricket and we really appreciate the support that's come our way."
Reflecting on the achievement of being the first England captain to win the Ashes since 1987, Vaughan chose to pay tribute to some of his predecessors in the job.
"We won it 18 years ago and a lot of players have put a lot of hard work in between now and then," he said.
"We're the lucky eleven to go and pick the urn up now but the likes of Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton, all of them know how hard it is to play against Australia."
Coach Duncan Fletcher, who has been in charge of England since 1999, said the victory had come sooner than he expected, but even better was to come from a young side.
"All the guys think they can still improve, if you don't you go backwards," he said.
"It's been a real hard battle but well worth it.
"I've been involved for five and six years and I've enjoyed all of it. It's just nice to come and win the Ashes for England."