Round-of-16 day began with continental breakfast in the Intercity Hotel in Essen and excitement was in the air as England fans and other nationals packed the breakfast room - all discussing England’s chances of getting to the quarter-final on Saturday against Switzerland, in Dusseldorf.

After a brief walk around the centre of Essen, it was time to go to Essen Hauptbahnhof and find a train for the 10-minute journey to Gelsenkirchen. Even though it was only midday, the double-decker train was heaving with England fans. One advantage of my age is that I get offered a seat by younger fans these days.

When we hit Gelsenkirchen, the station was full of England and Slovakia fans flooding in for the match at 6pm. The Football Supporters’ Association stewards were at the station and around the city, handing out copies of the Free Lions fanzine. There were also plenty of EURO 2024 volunteers to help and direct us.

We headed through the Neustadt (new town) towards the Fans Meeting Place in Heinrich-Konig Platz. Although prominently full of England fans, there were supporters from all over Europe. We were sat with four Austrian fans, who had got tickets for several matches and were supporting England on the day. There was a brilliant atmosphere as fans gathered together to warm up for the match with a few songs and a few beers.

Soon it was time to get the tram up to the AufSchalke Veltins Arena, where we had started our EURO2024 adventure, a fortnight ago. So, we knew the ropes, but this time we got a circular tour of the stadium as we had to find Eingang F. The atmosphere was building up as we were let in the stadium at 3pm and the England fans were in full voice with all the old favourites and the new ‘Phil Foden’s on Fire’ song. ‘He’ll play the Germans off the park’, although we were rather hoping he would play the Slovakians off the park first.

Not long after watching the team coaches arrive the players walked out with Jude Bellingham lapping up the adoration. Next was the official timed warm-up periods, followed by the team news. Kobbie Mainoo was replacing Conor Gallagher in an otherwise unchanged team. As always, the EURO 2024 pre-match ceremony followed, leading to the players coming out to a great reception and expectations were high.

England struggled to get going in the first half and it was no surprise when Slovakia took the lead. The referee wasn’t helping, flashing cards like it was Christmas with three England players booked in the first 16 minutes. We had serious concerns the match would not end up with 11-a-side. Half time came and the England fans were were nervous and disappointed.

England started the second half better and we all thought Foden had equalised, only for VAR to rule him marginally offside. Harry Kane missed a sitter when he headed narrowly wide and Declan Rice hit a post and Kane put the rebound over.

Time was running out and we were talking about saving money and Gareth Southgate resigning. But in the fifth minute of added time, cometh the hour, cometh the man. ‘Hey’ Jude Bellingham scored with a fantastic overhead kick to send the England fans into raptures and the match into extra time. In the first minute of extra time, captain Kane nodded us ahead from Ivan Toney’s header and we saw out the rest of the match with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford joining in with the fans, singing and celebrating. We had got out of jail. We had got through somehow. We had found a way to win and we will be back in Dusseldorf next Saturday.

We marched out of the stadium to a resounding chorus of Sweet Caroline. It was so good, so good, so good.

Gelsenkirchen had got their transport problems sorted as we walked straight onto a tram back to the centre, something that took us two hours last week. Then a connecting tram back to Essen and we were back in our hotel within an hour of the match finishing, ready to sort out our travel arrangements for Saturday. We were on a high and there was not much prospect of a night’s sleep.