The perfect storm climaxed at 7:20 p.m. in northwest London, 101 years after England first suppressed it.
Chloe Kelly pounced on scraps at Wembley Stadium, “the home of football,” as 87,192 fans jolted to their feet.
She poked England into a 2-1 lead in the 110th minute of Sunday’s Women’s Euro final, ripped off her shirt and twirled it in the air.
As limbs flailed all around her, she sprinted away in ecstasy, and into the future.
England, the self-professed inventors of the sport, had only ever won one major international tournament, the 1966 men’s World Cup. That changed on Sunday, a transformative day at the end of a transformative month for women’s soccer. The Lionesses, disregarded by their own nation for decades, beat Germany and won that nation its first European championship.
They also captivated it.
They drew sellout crowds and tens of millions of worldwide viewers.
They pulled fans — men and women, young and old, rich and poor, queer and straight — to Wembley Way and Trafalgar Square hours before kickoff on Sunday.
They put tears in the eyes of women’s soccer pioneers, and, even before they danced to “Sweet Caroline” and dove into glittering confetti, they offered a glimpse into what the sport can become.
Emma Hayes, the Chelsea coach and ESPN pundit, saw Wembley fill like never before and thought to herself: “I’ve waited my whole life for this.”