England’s penalty shootout triumph over Colombia marked an official evolution.
The moment Eric Dier slotted his spot-kick beyond David Ospina, we suddenly had evidence to support a wide-spread theory.
Gareth Southgate’s team are the ‘New England’ and they are unburdened by past tragedies.
Aside from Sir Gareth’s powers of motivation, one of the main reasons for this is that the squad is brimming with young talent who were generally distant from the disasters of 2010 and 2014.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at where all 23 of the current squad were four years ago…
England’s No1 spent one half of the 2013/14 season on loan at Burton Albion in League Two, and other at Carlisle United in the league above.
20-years-old at the time, he was yet to debut for parent club Sunderland.
Stoke’s new signing spent his 2013/14 season in Yorkshire on loan at Barnsley and then Leeds.
He had already made his England debut when Roy Hodgson gave him a go in a friendly against Italy in 2012.
Butland wouldn’t play senior international football again for another three years.
On Charlton’s books at the time, he was shipped out to Aldershot and York City to hone his skills.
His five games with the former meant he experienced the joyous purity of non-league football.
An established Spurs regular, a dip in form and injury troubles meant he slipped down Hodgson’s pecking order.
He was spared the torture of England’s disastrous trip to Brazil.
Rose followed an impressive season at Sunderland with a semi-breakout campaign with Spurs.
He featured in 30 games in all competitions for the north London club as his potential turned to substantial performances.
Still two years off an England debut.
Long before Man City forked out for £50million for him, the Barnsley Beckenbauer was a gifted yet error-prone centre-back at Everton.
His composure in possession won him plenty of fans in Merseyside with many tipping him as a future England captain.
England’s current No6 spent the 2013/14 season dominating every forward he came up against in League One.
Maguire was named Sheffield United’s Player of the Year for the third season in a row and earned a transfer to Premier League outfit Hull City in the process.
One of England’s most impressive performers at this World Cup, Trippier was instrumental in Burnley’s promotion from the Championship four years ago.
The Bury Beckham was well-known in the second tier for his unparalleled crossing at that level.
Cahill was very much in his prime four years ago.
A key figure for both Chelsea and England.
Another who suffered through the 2014 World Cup.
Still something of a raw talent, he featured regularly for Man United but failed to convince a considerable portion of the fans.
The Liverpool right-back couldn’t legally by a lottery ticket four years ago.
TAA was making waves for Liverpool’s youth side but still an unknown quantity to the fans who now adore him.
The man who ended England’s World Cup penalty hoodoo was soaking up the Portuguese sun in 2014.
Dier was a bit-part player for Sporting CP and did enough to convince Spurs of his ability.
J Lingz enjoyed loan spells in the Championship with Birmingham and Brighton, scoring ten goals in 30 games between the two clubs.
A regular for England Under-21s, he established himself as one of the manager’s favourites.
That manager? Gareth Southgate.
A first-team regular for club and country.
Henderson played more games for England in 2014 than any other calendar year of his career so far.
Part of the Liverpool team who suffered when Steven Gerrard slipped…
A near ever-present for Aston Villa, Delph became a midfield talisman and was named as the club’s Player of the Year.
Made his debut for England in the aftermath of England’s World Cup exit.
Struggled to hold down a place in Man United’s first-team but was the preferred choice for European fixtures.
Didn’t play any international football in 2014 or 2015.
A rising star in League One for MK Dons.
Played half a dozen games for England’s youth sides at Under-18 and Under-19 level.
The Chelsea youngster hadn’t kicked a ball in senior professional football when the last World Cup was taking place.
One of many talented teenagers desperate to make a name for himself for the Blues.
Sterling was just 19-years-old in 2014 but such was his talent, he was a key figure for Hodgson’s England.
He scored ten goals in all competitions for Liverpool and famously struck a teasing ‘ghost goal’ against Italy in Brazil.
The boy wonder was still gracing Man United’s reserves in 2014.
Nobody other than his coaches could possibly have predicted how fast he would transition from an unknown teenager to one of the most exciting young talents in the world.
Day Guy Welbz enjoyed his equal second-best season in terms of goals in 2013/14.
He scored ten goals in 36 games for Man United and was a regular goalscorer for his country when given a chance.
Welbeck was given the No11 shirt for England at the World Cup but failed to make much of an impact.
Vardy scored 16 league goals as Leicester earned promotion to the Premier League two seasons before their historic title win.
He convinced Foxes fans the club had not made an error in signing a 25-year-old forward from Fleetwood Town two years previous.
England’s golden boy had scored just three Premier League goals this time four years ago.
Spurs fans had only been given a taste of what was to come.