International football never seemed so far from home, with the majority prefering to be divided in our support for domestic club teams.
Years of underachievement by overpaid players resulted in disdain for qualifiers and friendlies, while I was long braced for failure before any tournament kicked off. Even during a trip to France for Euro 2016, I still felt genuinely unmoved and unperturbed by the inevitable early exit from the tournament.
I started this World Cup with very much the same mindset, something that seemed to be justified as the clocked ticked to 90 during the Tunisia game.
Then the circumstances of that win, albeit against lesser opposition, seemed to turn the tide for the nation. What started as ironic 'it's coming home' chants have spiralled into a national obsession.
The fast-paced, vigorous team has gathered momentum and grown in confidence, steadily overcoming every obstacle put before them.
A comfortable dispatch of Panama (which we'd previously have struggled with), followed by the trivial game against Belgium, which landed England with a fortunate route to the final, started to reaffirm the chants.
I hadn't allowed myself to be completely caught up in it, almost justified by extra time of Colombia game, but then came the pièce de résistance.
The team spat in the face of what their predecessors have failed to do. In spite of Colombian trickery, in spite of a sickening equaliser and in spite of relative inexperience - England won a World Cup penalty shoot-out.
The whole country went ballistic, myself included; all hints of irony now removed from singing the infamous Three Lions anthem.
After that the Sweden game seemed almost assured (no disrespect to them), as fever pitch took hold. Never in my lifetime have I seen the whole nation so jubilant, so united behind a common cause.
A waistcoat-clad, media-savvy Southgate, who may be a genius for losing the Belgium game, has grown a figure of inspiration. So too has his youthful team, lacking in the clashing egos of yester-years.
Those who previously hated football can be found from St. Ives to Scarborough muttering the words, sharing memes and contributing to the carnival atmosphere. Even the sun has decided to forgo its usual curfew, basking the country in an endless heat wave.
Of course some people have been taking it too far, jumping off buses, smashing ambulances and such; but the majority have enjoyed the seldom seen camaraderie in good spirits.
So can we win it? I did say from the beginning that England could beat one of the big boys in a one off, but could never beat three of them in a row - which they have managed to avoid. Fortune has presented the opportunity of a lifetime.
Sure, that Croatian midfield is terrifying, but the team will feel confident about their chances. That would leave an admittedly superior France in the final - but anything can happen in one game of football.
Extraordinary spirit, with a sprinkle of luck, has well and truly united the nation behind the Three Lions in a way no one could have predicted.
Win or lose the next two games, football has already come home. We can enjoy it together once again, with even the most pessimistic of us on board.