Ultimately, football didn’t quite come home – but there are precious few who won’t look back on the achievements of the England football team in 2018 with anything but unbridled joy.
The World Cup in Russia was one long party from the moment England scored a last-minute winner against Tunisia in their opening match in Nizhny Novgorod.
This, of course, was followed by a 6-0 thumping of Panama which made even the most cynical England fans dare to start to dream.
It was the team ethic of England that shone in the early part of that tournament – with coach Gareth Southgate fostering a band of brothers approach from the moment he took the job in November 2016.
England were a team in every sense, the likeable young squad winning friends with their sportsmanship, openness and fair play.
But this was also a side in need of a talisman, a man capable of turning a match with a moment of inspiration, a man with the ability to sniff out a chance and capitalise on it, a player to whom nerves were an alien concept.
That man, of course, was Harry Kane – a 25-year-old who carried the hopes of the nation with a broad smile on his face.
His performance against Colombia in the last 16 of the tournament told us everything we needed to know about a player who was about to become the first Englishman to win the World Cup Golden Boot since Gary Lineker in 1986.
That memorable night in Moscow – a night that’s now ingrained in the memory of every England fan, young and old – Kane was a titan, leading the line against the South Americans with the bravery of one of the three lions he wore so proudly on his chest.
Few players in the world could have shown the nerve he did when scoring the penalty that put England 1-0 up, and when he was needed again in the shoot-out he didn’t disappoint.
England’s World Cup journey would eventually end in semi-final defeat to Croatia but it didn’t feel like a disappointment – the belief that captain Kane’s England had handed the nation gave us a reason to party under near unbroken summer skies.
But Kane wasn’t done.
With England 1-0 down against Croatia at Wembley last month, minutes away from relegation from their Nations League group, their Captain Marvel stood tall once again.
With the clock ticking down, he set up Jesse Lingard’s equaliser, then scored a winner to send Southgate’s side through to yet another semi-final next summer.
Winning is becoming a bit of a habit for England these days.
And heroic Harry Kane has become their absolute inspiration.