watched in quiet reverence as Wayne Rooney closed in on the England knight’s all-time goal-scoring record.
Wife Coleen was in more extrovert celebratory mood as she jumped up from the posh seats to offer a jig of delight as her husband reached another memorable milestone.
A successfully despatched penalty was no mean feat for the Three Lions captain, who was once again placed under the intense glare of the unyielding spotlight.
Before a ball had been kicked in this European Championship qualifier, Wembley had witnessed the pomp and circumstance of Rooney’s 100th cap celebrations.
Complete with sons Kai and Klay, a proud Rooney received his special memento from Sir Bobby.
The past, though, counted for nothing as Rooney wriggled into the Slovenia penalty area, shaken and stirred, after the visitors had taken a shock 57th-minute lead.
It was too much for skipper Bostjan Cesar, who tripped the Manchester United forward leaving Rooney to plant the ball on the spot and attempt to hold his nerve in an England time of great need.
Despite Slovenia being one of the biggest exporters of pharmaceutical drugs, England until then had supplied their own sleeping tablets to send a near full house into a coma.
England’s diamond, with Raheem Sterling at the tip of it, had failed to sparkle. Roy Hodgson’s side had been devoid of energy and ideas.
‘Rooney Never Tired – 100 Not Out’ screamed one of the
There was certainly no lack of drive and power as he let fly from 12 yards and keeper Samir Handanovic’s outstretched right palm was not strong enough to deny the 29-year-old his 44th England goal.
So it’s now another one down – he is level with Jimmy Greaves – and two to go, Gary Lineker (48) and the imperious Charlton (49), before he can claim the record in his own right.
The fact that England went on to win with two goals from Danny Welbeck and continue their 100 per cent record in this featherweight group shouldn’t disguise the fact that until Rooney got going England had been bogged down and offered little enterprise. Not that a subdued Wembley offered any inspiration.
Hopefully, once it’s possible, England will take to the road again and sample more heady atmospheres in arenas like Anfield and St James’ Park.
Wembley was also still carrying the scars of its continuing flirtation with American football. You can spend a wasteful £757million but still end up with a pitch that would shame the Dog and Duck.
It had been a subdued start with little passion – the complete opposite of the boisterous affair the previous night in Glasgow between Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.
In fact, England only woke up when Jordan Henderson inexplicably headed past a startled Joe Hart from a free-kick lofted into the area by Milivoje Novakovic.
After Rooney’s swift reply, England discovered some poise and purpose to continue their stroll towards France 2016.
Rooney set Sterling free in the box only for Handanovic to smother, but there was no escape for the Slovenian keeper from England’s next purposeful attack.
He did well to block Adam Lallana’s deflected strike but the ball eventually fell to Welbeck whose connection wasn’t the sweetest, but it was enough for the Arsenal striker to claim a 12th senior international goal.
Slovenia looked thunderstruck, not knowing what had hit them after previously reducing the Three Lions to some aimless efforts at goal.
Worse was to follow as England made it 3-1 through the best move of the game.
Lallana fed the adventurous Kieran Gibbs before a wonderful one-two between Welbeck and Sterling was clinically finished by the Gunner.
It was relief more than joy for England who knew they hadn’t set the evening alight and who looked vulnerable on the counter attack, Phil Jagielka doing well to block Kevin Kampl just as the Slovenian was about to pull the trigger.
There hadn’t been enough width – the Three Lions crying out for Sterling’s burst of pace being used on the flanks instead of running into corridors in a packed midfield.
The appearance of Theo Walcott off the bench offered hope while Ross Barkley – not used yesterday – can emerge as a player with the knowhow and skill to open up stubborn defences. But this was Rooney’s day.
He started it by carrying young Klay on to the pitch in readiness for his presentation. He ended it by carrying England to a victory.
Next up are Lithuania at Wembley in March – if you apply for a ticket before December 12 they will be returned with a Christmas card signed by the Three Lions squad.
Rooney grabbed his own early present – England goal number 44.