It was the summer of 1996 and optimism was at an all-time high as England hosted the European Championships.
David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s “It’s Coming Home” filled the airwaves and with England under the stewardship of the popular Terry Venables, excitement was palpable.
Playing their first match before 76,000 at Wembley, Alan Shearer had everyone dreaming of a first major trophy in 30 years when he put the Three Lions ahead against Switzerland after 23 minutes.
But the visitors hadn’t read the script. Any premature celebrations were halted when Stuart Pearce handled in the penalty area, with Kübilay Türkyilmaz dispatching the spot-kick to earn the Swiss an unexpected point.
Pressure had amplified and up next was a highly-anticipated encounter with the auld enemy.
If the occasion of playing Scotland on home soil at a major tournament had played on the minds of England, it was telling in their first half performance.
The hosts struggled to fashion any clear-cut opportunities as Scotland stuck to their game plan, stifling England in a rather tepid 45 minutes.
Frustration around England’s uninspiring first half performance had filtered into the BBC’s panel, with Jimmy Hill famously criticising both the team and Paul Gascoigne for their showing at half-time.
“Gascoigne doesn’t look physically right, he doesn’t look emotionally right,” claimed Hill. “Without him and without his creativity, this England team suffers.”
A shrewd tactical switch from Venables during the interval soon quelled Hill’s concerns. Introducing Jamie Redknapp offered Gascoigne and his attacking counterparts’ greater support and England made a flying start to the second period.
Within eight minutes of the restart, England were in front. Gary Neville found himself in acres of space on the flank and whipped an inviting cross towards the back post where Shearer was waiting to pounce.
The goal was supposed to give the Three Lions authority in the match but Scotland had other ideas. Their wealth of experience came to the fore and David Seaman had to be alert to deny a header from Gordon Durie.
Craig Brown’s team continued to ask questions of their opponents and they looked to have found a breakthrough when Durie went to ground in the penalty area after a challenge from Tony Adams.
Gary McAllister took an almighty long run-up and fired left but Seaman guessed correctly, deflecting the ball behind with his elbow and preserving England's lead.
At this stage, Venables was considering hauling Gascoigne off. His assistant Don Howe even had the number of the Rangers ace ready.
Just moments later, Gazza had Wembley in raptures and the world in awe.
Seaman punted the ball forward and Teddy Sheringham latched on, feeding it into the path of Darren Anderton on the flank.
Anderton, spotting the run of Gascoigne through the middle, played his pass first-time into the feet of his England colleague.
What happened next was truly magical.
Aware of Colin Hendry’s presence, Gascoigne flicked the ball over the head of the sprawling Scotland defender.
Leaving Hendry on the deck, he watched the ball descend all the way down to his right foot, rifling an effort beyond the helpless Andy Goram to seal England’s victory.
It was a spontaneous act of sheer brilliance; a fitting example of Gascoigne’s phenomenal technical genius and mesmerising creativity.
Hendry had won the Premier League with Blackburn a year prior but unfortunately for him, he is remembered more for the embarrassment of that goal than his club achievements with Rovers and Rangers. Gascoigne is still winding him up about it now!
The occasion - and the opposition - made Gascoigne's astounding ingenuity all the more special.
As the ball rippled the back of the net, Gazza raced towards the jubilant crowd before falling to the ground on his back, arms spread and mouth wide open.
Shearer, Redknapp and Steve McManaman surrounded him, picked up a drinks bottle and proceeded to squirt water into Gascoigne’s mouth.
The dentist’s chair was born.
The celebration was a reference to England's escapades on their pre-Euro 96 tour of east Asia, where Gascoigne and other members of the team were vilified by the press after being caught for their boozy antics.
Recalling the incident, Gascoigne said: “I was first in the chair because it looked like a laugh. Then a few of the other lads did it. It was good for team spirit."
Gazza seemingly had the last laugh on the matter, and two days later the Daily Mirror published the headline "Mr Paul Gascoigne: An Apology", retracting their criticism of him and his involvement in the ‘team-building’ exercise in Hong Kong.
Expectations soared in the aftermath of the Scotland win but it would end in penalty heartbreak for England, who were defeated by Germany in the semi-finals after Gareth Southgate failed to convert his spot-kick.
Football didn’t come home but Gascoigne certainly demonstrated the very best of what England had to offer with a flash of his exceptional talent.
To Win Outright