So we’re all agreed that football IS coming home.
And when it does there’s a sense that the players bringing the World Cup back to England would deserve everything they get.
A team whose names were unfamiliar to casual fans seem to have grown on the country. Here’s just 11 reasons why they’re the most likeable bunch of lads in generations.
Just two years ago, centre-back Harry Maguire was among thousands of England fans at Euro 2016 in France.
Maguire joined his friends in Saint Etienne for England’s game against Slovakia and posted this picture when he was picked by Southgate.
After being substituted, one of the stars of the Panama game underlines the pure joy of playing football that seems to run through the team.
Commentators heaped praise on manger Gareth Southgate
for suggesting the team are about more than just football.
Asked about whether supporters were now “connecting” with the team in a way they had not done since Euro 96, the manager said: “That is one of the most important things for me, if we’re managing to do that.”
He added: "We have a chance to affect something bigger than ourselves.
"We’re a team with our diversity and youth that represents modern England and in England we’ve spent a bit of time being lost as to what our modern identity is and I think as a team we represent that modern identity and hopefully people can connect with us.”
Veteran winger-turned-defender Ashley Young was in the international wilderness, but has now played in the World Cup for the first time - and in his 30s. "Dreams do come true."
When Marcus Rashford found out he had been selected for the squad, the Manchester United striker shared an emotional Instagram picture thanking his mum, Melanie.
He wrote: “After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we’re off to the World Cup.”
Raheem Sterling has been portrayed in some corners of the media as a pantomime villain.
But this widely-shared 'It Was All A Dream' piece spoke of an incredible journey that included his father being murdered when he was an infant, leaving Jamaica as a five-year-old and helping his mother clean hotel toilets.
"I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge," he wrote.
"I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’."
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Rebekah Vardy, wife of England's Jamie Vardy, has distanced herself from the 'WAG' term that arguably defined the 2006 World Cup for England more than the football.
“WAG is a dated term because we're not defined by what our husbands do. We're individuals,” she said.
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The England manager has been hailed for his progressive attitudes, openness with the media (ie public) and THAT waistcoat.
Nothing but respect for a man who wears a three-piece suit in 30C temperatures.
Ulrik Pedersen via Getty Images
The Tottenham full-back won praise for speaking freely about his depression which he believes was triggered by the treatment of a knee injury coupled with family tragedy.
The 27-year-old’s mental health deteriorated as he contended with the triple trauma of his uncle killing himself, his mum Angela being racially abused and an assailant shooting at his brother inside the family home.
Rose spoke largely unprompted about his illness at a press conference: “Nobody knows this either, but my uncle (his father’s brother) killed himself in the middle of my rehab, and that triggered the depression as well.
“Off the field there have been other incidents: back home in August my mum was racially abused in Doncaster. She was very angry and upset about it, and then someone came to the house and nearly shot my brother in the face – a gun was fired at my house.
“England has been my salvation and I can’t thank the manager and the medical staff enough."
Harry Kane is arguably the team's only bona fide superstar, but it's his everyman appeal that makes him a different type of A-lister.
No 16-year-old prodigy, Kane initially struggled to make the Spurs team permanently and was then branded a 'one-season wonder' after his breakthrough year.
His personal life also speaks of his normality. He is married to Kate Goodland, his friend since childhood. They only started dating when Kane was 18 – seven years after this photo was taken with David Beckham.
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Eric Dier shows that footballers aren't what you think. When asked by the Times if all footballers do is talk about cars and clothes: “No! Never!
"Sometimes it’s music but it’s never about cars or clothes. We talk about day-to-day topics, about Brexit, and when that boy came out with the jumper (the controversial H&M monkey hoodie).
“We talk a lot about technology, natural resources, and electric cars."
He added : “We spoke a lot about independence in Barcelona. We were in Barcelona just after it all happened. We went to Madrid and they had Spanish flags in the windows everywhere and then we went to Barcelona and saw all the Catalonia flags in the windows everywhere.
"Footballers have so much to talk about, so much to say.”