Wayne Rooney believes this could be the year that England end their long wait for World Cup glory, with the Three Lions generating plenty of positivity at Russia 2018.
Free of the expectation which weighed heavy on the ‘Golden Generation’ and over the disappointment of recent shambolic showings, Gareth Southgate’s side are steadily building momentum.
A 1-0 defeat to Belgium in their final group game has already been shrugged off, with it widely acknowledged that finishing second was of greater benefit – hence the sweeping changes made by both sides in what was a dead rubber.
England are now readying themselves for a last-16 showdown with Colombia and Rooney, as a former captain of his country and all-time leading goalscorer, believes anything is possible from this point.
A man who has recently completed a move to MLS side D.C. United told Fox Sports: “There’s some big teams gone out of the World Cup and this could be the year England can go far and hopefully win it.
“I think certainly the first two games they were excellent.
“It’s been refreshing to see a lot of young players, a lot of energy, a lot of high pressing, and they’re scoring goals and exciting as well. It’s an exciting time to be an England fan.
“The game against Belgium was a bit of a game which probably no one wanted to win.
“Losing the game might actually benefit England to go further in the World Cup, to be on the right side of the draw, which I believe they are.”
A Harry Kane brace edged England past Tunisia in their opening fixture, before the Tottenham striker then went one better as he netted a hat-trick in a 6-1 mauling of Panama.
Defeat to Belgium has left the Three Lions in the bottom half of the draw, clear of the likes of France, Uruguay and Brazil.
Victory over Colombia would set up a quarter-final showdown with either Switzerland or Sweden, with it likely that Spain or Croatia would then be faced in the last four.
There is a long way to go before contests such as that can be considered, but Rooney is not alone in suggesting that a first international honour since 1966 could be on the cards for England’s class of 2018.