Night to celebrate for fans as Becks, William and topless bus dancers rejoice
England’s 2-0 victory over Sweden was marked in a variety of ways.
Famous fans, part-time supporters and even royalty toasted the England football team’s greatest moment in a generation following their 2-0 World Cup quarter-final victory over Sweden.
Former England captain David Beckham, singer Robbie Williams and popstar Cheryl were among those leading the tributes as goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli either side of half-time in Samara saw the Three Lions through to Wednesday’s semi-final.
Some 2,300 miles away in England, fans channelled their emotions in a variety of way – from taking their clothes off to climb on top of buses and scaling traffic lights, to dousing each other with beer and hugging strangers.
And despite a busy weekend itinerary, which included a summit to decide Britain’s future relationship with the EU, Theresa May still found time to congratulate manager Gareth Southgate and the team for “another excellent win to make the whole country proud”.
The Duke of Cambridge, president of the Football Association, sent his own message of congratulations shortly after the final whistle.
Writing on the Kensington Palace twitter account, Prince William said: “You wanted to make history @England and you are doing just that. This has been an incredible #WorldCup run and we’ve enjoyed every minute. You deserve this moment – Football’s Coming Home! W”
Former England captain David Beckham – who earlier captured the spirit of a nation with a video insisting football was “coming home” – wrote on Instagram: “Here We Go… Great win , Great performance .. Confident , professional and a team that are playing for each other , playing for the manager and playing for our country… Captain performances all the way through the team…. ComeOnEngland”
Girls Aloud singer Cheryl, who attended the 2006 World Cup while married to then-England left-back Ashley Cole, paid her own tribute to the fans.
She said: “The cheers I can hear outside coming from every direction is giving me the chills!!”
An audience of 16.5 million watched Tuesday night’s penalty shoot-out victory over Colombia, with an even greater number expected to have tuned in for the Sweden match.
Some went to desperate measures to follow the action.
In Doncaster, Nadine Hanlon watched the second half with her husband Lee and their wedding guests after renewing their vows.
She told the Press Association: “Amazing. It’s a great day because we’ve renewed our vows but even better that it’s topped off – England won.”
Others installed projectors at their wedding venues to ensure football-mad guests were able to keep updated.
The match was deemed so important it prompted a mini exodus from one of the British summer’s great institutions – the Wimbledon tennis tournament – as fans sought out bars showing the match.
Roads, too, were quiet as many opted against travelling during the game.
And while England only sold a fraction of their allocated tickets for the quarter-final, those who made the journey were more than content.
Terry Shepherd, 66 from Stockton-on-Tees, who was 13 in 1966 when England last lifted the trophy, said: “It’s marvellous. England have so much heartache over the years.
“I would rather play Russia in the semi-final.”
Peter John-Baptiste, 48, from Harrow, north west London, who was at Italia 90 the last time England made a semi-final, added: “How does it feel? Fantastic, we’re in World Cup semi-final for the first time in 28 years.
“It’s my seventh World Cup and I’ll be honest I can’t believe this. I never expected this at the start of the tournament.
“To be honest for a quarter final we were quite comfortable and I wasn’t expecting that because Sweden area always tough.
”Hopefully one more game and we’re in the final. I never thought I’d see my team walk out in the World Cup final but who knows, we could do it.”
There could be a sudden influx of Three Lions fans by Wednesday though, after British Airways reported a 700% surge in searches for flights to Russia from the UK since Tuesday.