There was noise as Italy scrapped and clawed its way back, taming England’s abandon and wresting control of the ball, Leonardo Bonucci’s equalizer puncturing the national trance. That is what happens when individual nerves bounce around and collide with tens of thousands more nerves: the energy generated, at some atomic level, is transformed and released as noise.
There was noise before extra time, Wembley bouncing and jumping because, well, what else can you do? There was noise before the penalty shootout, the prospect that haunts England more than any other. It was a day of noise. It has been, over the last few weeks, as England has edged closer and closer to ending what it regards as its years of hurt, a month of noise.
What all of those inside Wembley will remember, though, the thing that will come back to them whenever they allow — whenever they can allow — their minds to flick back to this day, this moment, is not the noise but the sudden removal of it, the instant absence of it. No sound will echo for as long as that: the oppressive, overwhelming sound of a stadium, of a country, that had been dreaming, and now, started, had been awakened, brutally, into the cold light of day.