There were joyous scenes at fan parks, pubs, air shows, music festivals and garden parties across England as a dominant 2-0 quarter-final victory over Sweden gave the Three Lions their best chance of making the final since 1966. They must now beat Croatia in a semi- final in Moscow on Wednesday night.
Around 32 million people – almost two thirds of the population – were crowded around screens at 3pm yesterday.
High streets were described as “ghost towns”, with roads deserted as the country stopped to watch the game.
The achievement of manager Gareth Southgate and his young team even received a Royal seal of approval, with Prince William tweeting: “You wanted to make history @England and you are doing just that.
“This has been an incredible World Cup run and we’ve enjoyed every minute. You deserve this moment – Football’s Coming Home! W”
Prime Minister Theresa May added: “Huge congratulations to Gareth Southgate and his team. Another excellent win to make the whole country proud.”
Even the Swedish ambassador to the UK agreed to support England after his team was knocked out.
I’m going to try to get tickets out to Russia. I didn’t believe it was coming home until today.
Torbjorn Sohlstrom said: “Congratulations England. You had the stronger team today and a great goalkeeper. When I have digested the result, I will support Three Lions.”
The game fell perfectly for families to enjoy, with children able to watch the 3pm kick-off after the excitement of Tuesday’s last 16 win over Colombia on penalties at nearly 10pm on a school night.
The biggest crowd watching yesterday’s game in the UK was the 20,000 at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London.
Thousands more watched at outdoor screenings including Flat Iron Square and Boxpark Shoreditch in London, Birmingham’s Archway, Leeds’ Millennium Square, Newcastle upon Tyne’s Times Square and Brighton beach.
Fans in Bristol go wild as they celebrate England’s win in World Cup match with Sweden
Almost 40 million pints were downed in a £200million beer and barbecue spree, as hospitals were put on alert for an increase in heart attacks among over-excited fans during the heatwave.
Supporters wearing England T-shirts with red and white face paint had crowded into the Refinery bar in Southwark, south London, an hour before kick-off.
Beer was sprayed everywhere as ecstatic fans jumped up and down chanting “It’s Coming Home” after the first goal.
The England manager was also praised in a play on the lyrics of an Atomic Kitten song, bellowing: “Southgate you’re the one, you still turn me on, football’s coming home again.”
Swedes and Scots packed into Akva, a Swedish bar in Edinburgh’s West End, to watch the match but most left after England’s second goal with half an hour left to play.
However, England fans joined their Swedish counterparts to watch the game at a Scandinavian-themed bar in central London.
Pitchers of Danish and Swedish beer were constantly carried on trays through the narrow Nordic Bat in Fitzrovia as chants of “All you’ve got is flat-pack furniture rang out from England supporters. Some Scotland fans joined the Swedish contingent in the cramped bar.
Festival goers celebrate at Wireless Festival in London’s Finsbury Park
Ben Griffiths, 35, from Uxbridge, west London, who works next door at Freesat offices said: “We’re over the moon, we ducked out of work to watch it and it was amazing.
“I’m going to try to get tickets out to Russia. I didn’t believe it was coming home until today.”
Fellow England fan Avi Benson, 25, from north London, said: “I’ve had my hopes up ever since the early Nineties, but this year I was not getting obsessed with it.
“Colombia was terrifying. I watched at the gym. The entire gym stopped at the penalties. It went mental when we won. As soon as the pens went in I thought, ‘We are going to win it this year.”
David Charlton, 28, from Edgware, north London, said: “We played so well. In my life time I never thought I’d see England win the World Cup. But now no doubt about it, it’s coming home.”
Mark Swartzer, 28, from Bow, east London, said: “It’s amazing, I can’t believe how well we’ve played. The team really stepped up.
“We’ve done so well to get to the semi-finals.”
At the stadium in Samara, with a St George’s flag wrapped around him, proud Englishman Darren Hurst, 54, a council sweeper, from Derby, said: “I am ecstatic.
“It means so much just to get a victory at this stage and it is the biggest since ’66 in my view. I say that because I have never been to a semi or a final. It is football heaven.”
England boss Gareth Southgate celebrates after the final whistle in Samara
“My dad Les, who died three years ago from cancer, told me all about the 1966 final and I can now go to my grave happy that we have got all the way to a semi-final.”
His friend Paul Revill, 36, from Nottingham, added: “This is my sixth tournament and this is the biggest thing I have ever seen.
“I was sceptical, but it looks like this is the biggest chance we have had in a very long time.”
Football-mad Ahmed Shankar, 23, had travelled all the way from Toronto, Canada, with his father Sundaram, an accountant.
Ahmed, a financial consultant, said: “I am the happiest man on Earth. To come all this way and see England do it is just amazing.”
Fans celebrate England’s win in Leeds
The TV audience watching the momentous clash at home yesterday was the biggest for an England World Cup game for 20 years and bigger than the 21.7 million viewers for the Royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana in 1981.
The peak viewing slot saw 22 million people tune into the match on BBC One, with another three million watching part of the game.
Another 3.5 million watched the clash online on the BBC iPlayer, with 3.5 million more viewing it at pubs.
However, some were left fuming when the online streaming service crashed during stoppage time at the end of the match.
Jonathan Melia tweeted: “My BBC iPlayer went down for the last five minutes! Had to try and find a radio for the ending. Grrrr.”
There was a huge surge in flight and hotel bookings for Russia last week for yesterday’s clash.
Now more are expected to head out for Wednesday’s semi-final in Moscow.
Last night a pair of tickets for next Sunday’s final were being offered online for £10,774.