The FA had announced in January 2006 that Sven-Goran Erikson would leave his post as England boss after the summer’s World Cup in Germany.
Before kick off in the finals, the Swede had forecast that England would win the trophy for the first time in 40 years.
So hopes of a dream ending to his five-year tenure were high after the side had eased fairly comfortably through the group stages.
And when it came to the round of 16 clash with Group A runners-up Ecuador, further progress looked well within their grasp.
But it took a special goal by David Beckham - who became the first England player to score at three World Cups -
to settle the tie before 52,000 supporters at Stuttgart.
Beckham beautifully curled home a free kick from 30 yards on the hour mark to earn a quarter-final tie against Portugal
But England made hard work of things. The South Americans could have gone in front early on, Carlos Tenorio’s shot deflecting off Ashley Cole and on to the bar after John Terry’s mistake. Frank Lampard missed two fine chances but England had done enough to win.
It was another England display which produced more questions than answers. Playing a 4-1-4-1 formation with Wayne Rooney up front alone, England looked comfortable and clumsy in equal measure on a strange afternoon in Stuttgart.
So England had reached the last eight of the World Cup finals for the second time under Eriksson.
But it was as far as they would go as they went out 3-1 on penalties to Portugal in Gelsenkirchen as their chances were hit by two massive blows.
Captain David Beckham went off with an injured ankle just after half-time and Wayne Rooney was sent off after 62 minutes after appearing to stamp on Ricardo Carvalho.
Beckham was replaced by Aaron Lennon while, following Rooney’s exit Peter Crouch was introduced for Joe Cole.
With temperatures again reaching30C 10-man England had their work cut out, but they battled bravely and gave as good as they got for the rest of normal time plus extra-time.
Portugal keeper Ricardo did well to stop a Frank Lampard free kick with Lennon scuffing his attempt to put home the rebound.
A John Terry shot was deflected over and, in extra time Crouch almost got onto the end of a Gerrard cross.
At the other end some desperate defnding and the fine form of Paul Robinson kept Portugal out as the tie went into penalties in which Ricardo made history as the first keeper in World Cup shootouts to save three penalties.
He stopped efforts by Lampard, Gerrard and Garragher - who had the ball in the net but had to retake. Man of the match Hargreaves was England’s only successful penalty-taker while Simao, Postiga and Ronaldo scored for Portugal to make it a sad finale for Sven.
Portugal went out to France in their semi-final in Munich with Zidane converting a 33rd minute penalty.
In the other semi-final hosts Germany were beaten 2-0 by Italy with goals at the very end of extra-time, from Grosso (119mins) and Del Piero (120+1).
And the Italians went on to win the trophy 5-3 on penalties.
Extra-time in Berlin had ended 1-1, Zidane (pen) having given France a seventh-minute lead with Materazzi equalising after 19 minutes.
Germany beat Portugal 3-1 in the third-place playoff.