England might not have won the World Cup, but I awake this morning thinking that football has come home.
The tongue-in-cheek song by Baddiel and Skinner with the Lightning Seeds from 1996 has galvanised football in the country.
Most fans sung it with a hint of irony from the first game of the tournament. We did not think we would win the World Cup; it was one of the worst England sides in decades with a manger out of his depth.
No one could have predicted that this rag-tag bunch of lower league players and their waistcoat wearing manager would end up in the semi-final of the World Cup.
A lot of people owe Gareth Southgate an apology.
He might not be the best manager in the world, the most charismatic appointment, a tactical genius, but what he did was bring together the egos of millionaire players and made the whole greater than the individual.
The English national team has had a huge disconnect with the fans for some time.
The Golden Generation of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were arrogant and hard to like if you supported a rival club.
They thought they were superior to the normal Englishman, that the rules that govern us all did not apply to them.
Whether it was sleeping with brasses, fighting in night clubs, missing drugs test, parking in disabled bays or abusing Americans a few hours after 9/11, they were a bunch of players that were continually on the front pages rather than the back.
They used and abused women, each one as unfaithful as the next. And they underperformed massively.
Playing at Wembley also did not help.
A stadium built for cooperate hospitality has often been 30% empty, filled with people with little interest in football. The atmosphere of a funeral. England were boring.
It perhaps started at the game in Leeds prior to the World Cup.
Elland Road was buzzing. It was a proper atmosphere, taking us back to the days when Wembley was being built and the England team were on tour. It is something post World Cup that the FA should consider again.
Play games in Manchester, Newcastle, Leicester, Leeds, Sheffield and Southampton.
Londoners just do not really care as much about the English national team. 50% of the city is not English, and trekking to Wembley on a Tuesday night is a nightmare. A trip that most football fans in the capital end up shunning.
That enthusiasm in Leeds carried through to the World Cup as fans up and down the country decided they wanted their game back.
They wanted their game back from the suits, from the FA, from the corporate’s, from the England band and the happy clappy fans that turn out at Wembley.
The disconnect from the Golden Generation with the fans was bridged. Normality was the key.
Here we had a normal manager in Gareth Southgate. A man we had cried with in 1996. Someone who said it how it was. And he had a likeable bunch of players. Normal players. Players who had fought their way through the lower leagues.
Where as that dislikeable Golden Generation had all come through Premier League academies, been told they were going to be the best in the world from a young age and pampered, this side was completely different.
We all know the Jamie Vardy story. From non-league to Premier League champion in 5 years. And he is not the only one.
Hero of the Quarter-Final Harry Maguire has gone from Sheffield United, Hull City and Wigan to Leicester City. Whilst Jordan Pickford started his career at Sunderland, and had loan spells at Darlington, Alferton Town, Burton Albion, Carlisle United, Bradford City and Preston North End.
Kyle Walker was at Sheffield United, Northampton Town, QPR and Aston Villa, whilst centre back partner and Manchester City started his career at Barnsley.
Dele Alli started his career at Milton Keynes, Harry Kane had loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall and Norwich. In total 51 clubs were represented in the England squad.
This morning fans in Wales and Scotland are mocking England over football coming home. We have even had EU bureaucrats celebrating Croatia’s win like it was their own country that has just made a final.
What they are missing is that “It’s coming home” was not just about winning the World Cup. It was about a return to being proud to be English, a return to the English football team being a joy to watch. A return to the country being united once more.
Football belongs to the fans up and down the country, but the England national team had not felt like ours for a long time. During the World Cup, it returned to the fans. Football came home.