The sense of anticipation was as high as they could possibly be; the feeling of history about to be created palpable. And then with a good, firm swing of his right boot, Wayne Rooney created that history, scoring his 50th international goal, and with it going past Bobby Charlton's England goalscoring record that has stood for 45 years.
Rooney's goals that levelled him with Charlton and then took him to the sole record-holder spot might have come from penalties, but that matters little in the end with the Manchester United forward putting himself right up there with the other England greats.
"This is right up there if not the best -- to be your country's all-time leading goalscorer before the age of 30 is something could never have dreamed of -- I'm extremely proud," Rooney said after scoring the second goal of a 2-0 win over Switzerland in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Wembley.
"It's a great feeling. I know I've been close to it the last few England games and to finally do it is a dream come true.
"As you've probably seen, I was a bit emotional out there. It's a huge honour and I'm extremely proud. I'm happy it's done and hopefully I can kick on from here and concentrate on the team and success in the future."
There were no half measures in that history-making penalty, won by Raheem Sterling after Granit Xhaka brought him down inside the box, with Rooney pumping every bit of energy he had left in the 84th minute of the game to power the ball past the Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
"I knew myself it was a big moment for me and I just picked my corner, put my boot through it to get as much power on it as possible and make it hard for the goalkeeper," Rooney added. "The keeper got a touch but thankfully it had too much power."
England manager Roy Hodgson might not have been too pleased with the overall England performance – the passing was too sloppy and the 2-0 victory, courtesy a Harry Kane strike on 67 minutes and that Rooney penalty, six minutes from time, did flatter them a little – but he could not have been happier with the achievement of his captain.
"It's an amazing achievement. I was really delighted for him, but my mind turns to Sir Bobby Charlton – he was one of our greatest-ever and I'm hoping he'll be pleased for his record to be passed.
"All records are there to be broken and I hope he'll be pleased it was Wayne who did it as a fellow Manchester United man. It's a proud moment for Wayne and his family and we participate in and enjoy the moment with him and we see what the future brings.
"But the most important thing we've got to do is keep improving our performances because although we won the game, we've played an awful lot better than that and were fortunate to come out 2-0 winners."
Below is the Wayne Rooney goal and the rest of the highlights from the match