A nation’s enthusiasm is biggest cause for celebration 

England manager Gareth Southgate
England manager Gareth Southgate
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We said we’d stay calm, we promised a sense of perspective would prevail.

Yet, it’s taken nine days for the patriotic fervour to begin bubbling to the surface.

It may not quite be Three Lions fever just now, but you can sense the World Cup heat rising along with the temperature around the country.

The media’s avoidance of hooplah and hyperbole which has been a refreshing hallmark of their coverage in the build-up to Russia is fragmenting, as the urge to revert to stereotypes begins to bubble through the cracks.

‘England are looking to invoke the spirit of ‘96,’ bellowed ITV presenter, Mark Pougatch, as he previewed tomorrow's final group G meeting with Belgium. 

If the state of my local was anything to go after Monday’s opener with Tunisia it wasn’t football which was coming home, more a wrecking ball after Harry Kane’s stoppage-time winner sent pint glasses and chairs flying - and even a couple of ribs broken in the raucous celebrations.

A second record-breaking World Cup victory over Panama, and in particular the first-half demolition, has seen us begin to do exactly what these pages called for two weeks ago.

England fans are enjoying the big-tournament experience, and youngsters are witnessing the sight of their nation performing at the finals of a major championship for the first time.

Heck, even the Germans are casting admiring glances in the direction of Gareth Southgate's men.

'We wish we had Kane!' was the admission in their leading newspaper Bild, after the Spurs man's opening Tunisian salvo.

The report went on to speak of the freedom and attacking verve England's young side are operating with, in comparison to the world champion's stuttering start.

The caveat to those encouraging noises, are the wins came against a side ranked a very generous 21st and 55th in the Fifa rankings.

But we are no allowing ourselves to look to how England move forward as the competition unravels.

The fact is a second-placed finish undoubtedly plots an easier path to the latter stages - and avoids a likely potential quarter-final clash with Brazil.

Southgate has highlighted it's an amusing consideration, given England have won one knockout match (against Ecuador) in the 16 years since reaching the quarter-finals in Japan and South Korea.

But the fact it's being considered for a nanosecond is the biggest compliment to the impact of his players in enthusing a nation.