Story highlights

England through to semifinals

Beat Sweden 2-0 in last eight

Will play Croatia in last four

CNN —  

From hope to tempered expectation to a country at fever pitch.

After a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sweden, England now finds itself preparing for a World Cup semifinal for only the third time in its history – and for the first time in 28 years.

Indeed, England has only reached the final once, back in 1966 when, as host, it won football’s biggest prize.

This inexperienced England side wasn’t supposed to make history, especially when recent teams made up of household names such as David Beckham and Wayne Rooney had failed miserably at major tournaments over the last couple of decades.

So, it is perhaps little surprise that England’s feats in Russia have led to wild celebrations, frenzied headlines and countless memes.

For weeks England fans on social media, perhaps initially with tongue firmly in cheek but now with a sense of belief, have been claiming that football is “coming home,” the chorus of the country’s favorite football song “Three Lions,” written when England hosted the European Championships in 1996 and reached the semifinals.

Once England beat Colombia on penalties in the last 16 – the first time it had won a penalty shootout at a World Cup – Twitter was awash with doctored videos, from Russian President Vladimir Putin playing the piano to the tune of “Three Lions” to a scene from Friends with Ross, Joey and Chandler dancing to the football anthem.

England’s players have been getting in on the act, too.

Hours after England’s last-16 win, forward Jesse Lingard earned over 300,000 retweets with his post: “No mum, I’m not coming home. Its…” Following the win over Sweden, he posted a video of him hugging his mum at the Samara Stadium. “Because I said we aint [sic] going home she came here,” he tweeted.

Tottenham defender Kyle Walker – only one of three England players to have been born when his country last reached the last four – tweeted a picture of himself with his fingers on his temples with the caption: “When you can’t get “it’s coming home” theme tune out of your head.”

Even on a train carriage in south west London, “its coming home” was displayed on a screen before England’s last-eight tie kicked off and former England striker Gary Lineker, now a sports presenter, posted a picture of himself on Instagram with the World Cup trophy in the BBC studio. “This baby wants to come home,” read his caption.

On Saturday British Airways tweeted a picture of an airline ticket which read ‘from Moscow, to Home’ and reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton posted a picture of himself celebrating.

With a place in the semifinals secured, much adoration on Twitter was reserved for goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, a player who has answered his critics with astonishing saves in the last 16 and in the quarterfinal.

Indeed, aged 24 years and 122 days, the Everton player became the youngest England goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet at a World Cup.

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Even former Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo tweeted: “It’s safe with Pickford. He is bringing it home.” Another tweet featured a picture of a wall with the caption “Pickford took a selfie after the match.”

Harry Maguire, goalscorer against England, has even become a meme, thanks to a little help from teammate Walker.

And one fan, Tayyab Hussain, replied to Walker’s tweet with a picture of manager Gareth Southgate outside Ikea carrying a box with the words ‘trophy cabinet’ written on it.

With the country experiencing a heatwave and unexpected success on the football pitch, it is understandable that Englishmen and women have become a little giddy.