Leon Osman has looked on from afar, noting England's flaws, railing at the television screen in frustration like the rest of the country as possession is squandered, as the years of hurt lengthen like reproachful shadows. Unlike the rest of the country, the Everton midfielder has a chance of confronting England's woes.
In terms of international rescue, England still need more than a 31 year-old uncapped midfielder with a sensible approach to keeping the ball. England need a collection of mentally tough, physically strong, technically talented, tactically aware individuals. Like Osman's moustache, Roy Hodgson's England remain a work in progress.
Yet Hodgson's decision to include Osman in the squad flying to Stockholm today (Tuesday) reflects the manager's desire to promote those who cherish the ball's company. Although instinctively respectful of his new colleagues, Osman still voices his annoyance at past England viewing.
"I'm usually screaming at the telly with my scarf in my hand,'' Osman reflected yesterday, relaxing after training at England's Salford retreat. "We don't seem to gel properly. We have moments when we play fantastically well and others where we haven't. That's why getting the opportunity to get your squad together and get closer is vital."
That is what Hodgson is using these precious few days for, bonding the squad, assessing new talents - Osman, Sterling, Zaha - and reminding his players of the importance of possession.
"Maybe that's what the manager is looking for, to keep the ball for longer periods,'' continued Osman. "I'm delighted that I might get the opportunity to do that. He said he had admired me for a few years and thought it was time to get me into the squad. I'm delighted he has done that and that my form has been right for him to do that."
Osman could partner Steven Gerrard and Tom Cleverley in midfield, possibly with Jack Wilshere featuring after the break. Just the mention of Gerrard made Osman nod in appreciation.
"Making his 100th cap is a great achievement,'' said Osman of Gerrard. "We've played against each other since we were young kids for Liverpool and Everton. Our families don't mix but we've known each other for a long time. I know the qualities he brings to the game: determination, desire to win, passing. It's difficult to play against him. It'll be a delight to play with him I'm sure. He just welcomed me into the squad and said 'congratulations'.''
Gerrard was not alone. "We trained as normal at Everton last Thursday,'' recalled a smiling Osman, "and David Moyes got the lads together after the session was coming to an end. There seemed to be a lot more staff around the edge of the pitch than usual. He said that I was in the squad. There were head ruffles and a few kidney punches and other childish stuff. All the members of staff were cheering from the sideline. It was a great moment." The great moments continued. When Osman returned home from Finch Farm, he waited for his seven-year-old football-daft son Cole. He was desperate to tell him daddy's big news. "He'd been out on a school trip and I sat him down. I actually put Sky Sports News on for him. He had a confused look on his face. I said, 'That's our name, you know'. And when he realised he was made up." And if dad starts? "I'm sure he'll be allowed to stay up late!
"My kids, Cole and Deacon, are old enough now to appreciate their football. I'm more relaxed than my seven year-old. He is right next to the telly trying to head them in!"
Osman has attended a couple of England internationals in the flesh. "I went to watch a couple of games late Nineties. I went to one when Wembley first reopened in 2007. But with the games being at Wembley and us being up north and with the family, I tend to watch them on the telly."
Osman was linked with representing other countries. "I'm an English lad. I'm not Turkish, I'm not Cypriot. I'd like to point that out. It's fantastic to be here. If it's a one-off that's great but being the character I am I know that if I get one cap I'll want two. My development has been late. I made my debut at 21, became a first-team regular at 23. But I'm mature now and have the football experience."
Like Scott Parker, a late developer with England. "I played with Scott when we were kids,'' continued Osman. "When he was first on the scene he was a great player and when he came back he was mature, knowing when to do his job and when to stand off. He's been quality.''
Osman briefly considered life back at Finch Farm this international week. "There's usually four or five of us left behind there - me, Phil Neville, Sylvain Distain, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar. It's usually running. I'm a lot happier to be here I can tell you. I'm sure they will miss me to be honest. I'm the lively one." Everton's temporary loss is England's gain.