'Football's Coming Home,' sang Baddiel, Skinner and almost the entire English nation, but in the end, as so many times in the past, it was the Germans who carried off the spoils.
It was a tournament that mixed the extraordinary with the banal in equal measure.
While some games, and some teams, produced displays worthy of the biggest-ever European Championships, others sank into mediocrity.
Big losers were Italy and Holland. Both tipped as pre-tournament favourites, their hopes disintegrated among squad squabbles and early exits ensued.
The complacent Italians fell to a shock defeat against the Czech Republic in the group stages and failed to get any further.
Meanwhile the Dutch, battered by England, riven by accusations of racism in camp, fell meekly to France in the quarter-finals.
The Czech Republic, in their first Championships, reached the final almost without anyone noticing. And how could they?
In the other half of the draw, a resurgent England were led by Alan Shearer, prompted by Gascoigne and inspired by the goalkeeping of David Seaman.
The hosts recovered from an uncertain 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their opening game to defeat first Scotland and then, with their best international performance in 30 years, Holland by the improbable margin of four goals to one.
ENGLAND IN EUROPE: 1996
Semi-final defeat on penalties
Finals Group A:
Eng 1-1 Switzerland, Scotland 0-2 Eng,
Eng 4-1 Holland
Eng 0-0 Spain (AET)
(Eng won 4-2 pens)
Eng 1-1 Germany (AET)
(Germany won 6-5 pens)
When Spain were beaten on penalties the nation rejoiced. A semi-final against Germany? Surely revenge for the World Cup defeat in 1990 was beckoning?
Of course, history decided to repeat itself instead. Despite Shearer's second-minute strike, the Germans were level by half-time.
When England failed to score in extra-time, despite hitting the post through Anderton and coming the thickness of a lace away with Gascoigne, along came penalties, and the predictable agony for the home side.
So it was that the Czechs, defeated 2-0 by Germany in their first group game, came up against the same opponents in a final that was a damp squib to everyone but the two nations involved.
Winners on penalties themselves in their semi against France, the Czechs took the lead from the spot when Poborsky tumbled just inside the box.
With 18 minutes to go, a second unlikely result in consecutive finals seemed on the cards.
Then German substitute Oliver Bierhoff rose to head home an equaliser. Extra time began. Four minutes later, Czech keeper Petr Kouba fumbled a mis-hit Bierhoff shot and it was all over.
If the Queen felt any grief handing over the trophy to Jurgen Klinsmann, she disguised it well.
1996 European Championship results
(Held in England)
Group A: England 1-1 Switzerland, Holland 0-0 Scotland, Holland 2-0 Switzerland, England 2-0 Scotland,
Scotland 1-0 Switzerland, England 4-1 Holland
Group B: Bulgaria 1-1 Spain, France 1-0 Romania,
Romania 0-1 Bulgaria, France 1-1 Spain, France 3-1 Bulgaria,
Spain 2-1 Romania
Group C: Germany 2-0 Czech Rep, Italy 2-1 Russia,
Italy 1-2 Czech Rep, Germany 3-0 Russia, Germany 0-0 Italy,
Czech Rep 3-3 Russia
Group D: Denmark 1-1 Portugal, Croatia 1-0 Turkey,
Turkey 0-1 Portugal, Croatia 3-0 Denmark,
Portugal 3-0 Croatia, Turkey 0-3 Denmark
England 0-0 Spain (AET - England won 4-2 on penalties)
Holland 0-0 France (AET - France won 5-4 on penalties)
Germany 2-1 Croatia
Czech Rep 1-0 Portugal
France 0-0 Czech Rep
(AET - Czech Rep won 6-5 on penalties)
England 1-1 Germany (AET - Germany won 6-5 on penalties)
Germany 2-1 Czech Rep (AET)