Arise Sir Roy. And Gary Neville CBE.
OK, we might be getting ahead of ourselves a little here. Italy, Germany and Spain is about as tough a likely route as you could envisage to European triumph. And Italy, Greece, Portugal is not a whole lot easier.
But at least England have got us dreaming. Which is not something anyone was doing at the last international competition the country was involved in. Back in South Africa in 2010, anyone who witnessed those matches against Algeria and Germany in particular was waking up in the middle of the night at the horror of what we had just seen.
This time, though, it is different. This time the English are for once the sum of their parts, playing to their capabilities, their good players showing form. Sure, they may not be the most aesthetically pleasing team in the competition. Sure they may find keeping the ball somewhat harder than Spain, Germany or even Croatia. But they are efficient. And more to the point they are through. Without at any point looking as though they might not make it.
True they might have been helped on their way by a bunch of officials doing a workable impression of Mr Magoo (can anyone in UEFA explain what is the point of those blokes behind the goal if — when standing directly in line with and about six yards from the ball when it comes down behind the goal line - they fail to notice that it has?) But in truth a correct award of a Ukraine goal would not materially have affected anything. The hosts had to win to progress at France's expense. Or indeed England's.
So what has Hodgson done to make the difference? Would, for instance, the nation's favourite for his job have done as well? Would England be where they are this morning had Harry Redknapp been there? Impossible to say, obviously. But of this we can be sure: this morning the FA's selection board must be preening themselves on a job well done. Five games in charge for Hodgson have resulted now in four wins and a draw. He has brought clarity, calmness and tactical cuteness. Three things which were not always evident with England in the past. And from those features has stemmed the most important quality required to deliver in football: confidence.
Take the performance of the captain. Steven Gerrard was magnificent against Ukraine. As in all the group games, his crosses were nothing less than open invitations to score. Three assists he has so far in this competition. That is a whole lot more than he had in South Africa, where he was — after scoring early against USA — largely anonymous. Why the change? Well, it helps that he is fit and that he is playing in his correct position, partnered by a player in Scott Parker happy to do his dirty work. But it is also to do with confidence. And Hodgson has man-managed him extremely well, reassuring him with the permanent captaincy that he is the main man. Gerrard has responded to the role superbly, relishing the responsibility, at last demonstrating that he can transfer his authoritative club form to the international game.
However refreshing a confident, well-organised, rational, sensible England team, with good public relations and minimal evidence of the usual paranoia that surrounds the operation, may be they are still limited by one thing: their players are not as good as those of Germany, Portugal or Spain. But Hodgson is aware of that. Hence his emphasis on organisation. He knows that being not as good as your opponents didn't stop Greece in 2004, or Liverpool in 2005 or Chelsea in 2012. Nor did it stop Fulham under him advancing to the Europa League final. What matters in football is the team.
Before we get too carried away, however, with talk of our time or how the luck is finally going our way, before we start looking over the horizon to potential challenges ahead, we have to remember who England's opponents are on Sunday in the quarter final. They are an outfit who know all about the values of team work, too.
Anyone watching Italy labour at times against Ireland in their last group match in Poznan on Sunday might gain the impression that they will present little in the way of a barrier to England progress. That would be entirely the wrong conclusion to draw from the game. Italy did what Italy always do: enough. This is a very accomplished, very experienced, very canny side. In Andrea Pirlo they have one of the world's great schemers, in Gianluigi Buffon they have one of the world's great keepers and in Mario Balotelli they have a spark of genius. Trying to predict Balotelli's mood, moves and positioning is a fool's errand. Moreover he knows his opponents. He plays against Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott (who has been excellent in the group stages) every day in training. He knows all about John Terry and Ashley Cole. The prospect of lining up against Glen Johnson will hold few fears for him. It would be just like Mario to score a couple against England.
Against Ireland they didn't need to shine. They just needed to win. Which — like England when faced with Ukraine — they did. The truth is, Italy represent about as tough a barrier as this competition could have erected ahead of English ambitions. But that is the joy of the Euros (or at least it will be until UEFA dilute the format next time in France): every game is the toughest of examinations. What is so refreshing for those of us who witnessed the awfulness of Bloemfontein is that at least England — thanks in part to the efforts of their new manager — have put themselves in a position where they can compete. For that change alone we owe him one.