As the sound of ecstatically cheering England supporters drifted off into the warm north London air, the England coach stood almost sombrely in the Wembley tunnel, striking a noticeably low-key note in his post- match press conference. He did concede, though, that he would "rest peacefully tonight".
Concentrating more on how the extraordinary victory over the Netherlands had been achieved than what it meant to him and the England team, Venables said: "We knew if we were to have a chance we had to get the homework right. We adapted well to the marking side, and we got the movement to shift them out of their spaces, which is what they do to you.
"You can't ever expect beat a team like Holland like that, but if you stick to what you plan to do you've always got a chance. The set-pieces and finishing were first class."
Guus Hiddink, the Dutch coach, was unstinting in his praise of England: "They taught us a lesson in every aspect of the game, in offence and defence. They were more controlled. When you have that organisation you have to work against it. England deserve everything they got."
Collective responsibility, not for the first time, was the order of the day for England, although on this occasion the circumstances were rather happier. "It was a good team performance," Venables said. "The lads just had to apply themselves properly."
The fact that it was against the Dutch that England produced their most memorable Wembley performance for 30 years was particularly satisfying to Venables. "We were playing a very good team," he said. "I've got a big admiration for the Dutch coach." None the less, the job was far from over. "We've had a good night but we must not get carried away," he added. "It's no good congratulating ourselves, because we've got a big game on Saturday. We'll perhaps enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow we're back at it."
Venables, though, while emphasising the teamwork aspect of the win, was not allowed to get away without a mention of Alan Shearer on a night when his two goals moved him to the top of the Euro 96 leading scorers' table with four. "I'm very pleased for him. Not just his goals, but they way he linked with the rest of the team."
For Shearer, it was another opportunity to get back at those in the media who had doubted his ability to find the net for England. "It might keep you guys quiet," he told the assembled press. "But I've always had faith in my ability. The manager's always had faith, but some of you guys didn't. But there you go."Reuse content