And it had all started so well. Southgate’s Three Lions squad got stuck in straight away and were 1-0 up inside two minutes, but Italy hit back midway through the second half with a goal of their own to send the match down to the wire.
When it was still 1-1 after extra time, a dreaded penalty shootout beckoned. And then our elation at a possible end to 55 years of hurt turned to devastation as England missed three penalties in a row.
Marcus Rashford hit the post then Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka’s shots were saved by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who became a national hero in the process.
It was a heartbreaking way to lose the tournament, which had brought the nation together and generated a wave of optimism after nearly a year-and-a-half of living with coronavirus.
Tens of thousands watched the epic match in pubs, and there was a fantastic atmosphere in The Queens Head in Rothbury.
No bookings were needed, so people who turned up early enough were able to bag themselves a seat. Everyone watching experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – par for the course if you are an England fan – but they refused to give up hope until the dying seconds of the game.
So, football may not be coming home after all, but this England squad did themselves and their country proud. Bring on the World Cup!