ENGLAND’S fans may have voted to emblazon the team coach with the words “Send Us Victorious” but, pleasingly, the general interpretation of what would constitute success for Gareth Southgate’s team is more realistic.

It is 12 years since we went to the World Cup in Germany with such hubris, it still makes my toes curl even now.

The Golden Generation eventually imploded under the pressure of paparazzi, parties and press calls, blowing their chances of ending ’40 Years of Hurt ™’ and triggering a backlash against football celebrity culture.

The country has been through the ringer in the intervening years. And though the Premier League bubble has not burst, there has been a widespread reaction against the culture of footballing entitlement which was allowed to fester back in Baden-Baden.

One by one, England managers have tried to do things their way.

Fabio Capello’s tough love in South Africa 2010 proved too much for the players to bear. Roy Hodgson’s pitch leading into Brazil 2014 was so underwhelming, it is almost inconceivable to think he could have failed to meet his targets. Yet he did.

After all the palaver about Sam Allardyce – who should be leading England into Russia this summer – the pressure on Southgate was virtually non-existent. But the former Under-21 coach has gradually won over a lot of his doubters. He hasn’t entertained celebrity – severing ties with Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart, and refusing to pick a half-fit Jack Wilshere.

His press in the build-up to has been upbeat, centring around making the country proud of their national team again.

The open media session before the squad travelled out to their base in the Gulf of Finland was a masterstroke, diffusing the laughable tabloid animosity around Raheem Sterling and painting a human face on a young team.

It feels fresh, positive and exciting. But who among us is really daring to dream?

Travelling into work the other morning I counted two England flags hung from bedroom windows; had this been 2016, I’d wager there would have been 10 times as many.

There was a time when my knowledge of the England team going into a World Cup finals would border on the obsessive. Yet the other night my wife asked me who Ruben Loftus-Cheek played for and I stumbled around for an answer for an embarrassing amount of time.

It isn’t apathy. I will be cheering as loudly as ever when England line-up against Tunisia. I view this as a dress rehearsal for the Euros in two years and then maybe we can end 56 years of hurt in Qatar.