Wayne Rooney marked his 100th appearance with a crucial penalty as England came from behind to labour to victory over Slovenia.
Jordan Henderson threatened to gatecrash Rooney's special day at Wembley when he headed into his own goal to give Slovenia the lead in the 57th minute.
But Rooney won and converted a penalty before Danny Welbeck scored a brace to hand Roy Hodgson's men a 3-1 win in their Euro 2016 qualifier.
Eleven years, nine months and three days after a fresh-faced Rooney stepped off the bench to make his international debut against Australia, he became the ninth member of an illustrious club containing greats like Bobby Moore, Billy Wright and Sir Bobby Charlton.
Debate has taken place this week up and down the country as to whether Rooney deserves to be regarded as an England great.
It was telling that Rooney admitted during a frank sit-down with the press at St George's Park on Tuesday that he regards Euro 2004 as the highlight of his international career.
Since he burst on to the scene in Portugal that summer, he has failed to match the achievements of Moore and Charlton by winning a trophy with England.
But while there have been red cards, tantrums and sub-par performances, Rooney's commitment and passion for England - as was revealed in his 2002 poem - has never been questioned.
England needed that passion more than ever on Saturday evening. After a terrible first-half display, it came as no surprise when Slovenia went ahead.
But Rooney quickly took charge of the situation, winning the penalty within two minutes of Slovenia's goal. Thereafter, England improved and Welbeck took his tally to five goals in five games to steer the Three Lions home.
Even before the first whistle, Rooney was sprinting around the Wembley turf chasing his team-mates in the warm-up. He was determined to prove a point.
Once Charlton had awarded him his golden cap, and his sons Kai and Klay had left his side, Rooney set about trying to lead England to victory.
With little over four minutes gone, Rooney gained space in the box to run on to Jack Wilshere's 50-yard pass, but he mis-controlled and Branko Ilic intercepted.
Rooney's was not the only bad touch in a scrappy opening 15 minutes.
The pitch did not help matters, with the surface - which last weekend staged an NFL match - cutting up within a few minutes.
Nathaniel Clyne, making his debut, found a flat part on the flank and laid the ball to Rooney, who fed Raheem Sterling, but he shot wide.
Rooney then saw a half-volley fly way over as the 82,305 fans who had come to Wembley looking for a goal-fest, or even just some entertaining football, were left sorely disappointed.
The first half was possibly the worst 45 minutes of what has been an annus horribilis for England.
The hosts lacked width, invention and speed. The closest they came to scoring was when Samir Handanovic had to stick his right leg out to tip Jasmin Kurtic's woeful back-pass wide.
At the other end Milivoje Novakovic put a free header two feet wide of Joe Hart's goal.
England looked a bit sharper directly after the break. Rooney was the inspiration.
The England captain headed wide a foot wide and then had a shot blocked by Bostjan Cesar. Phil Jagielka had England's first effort on target.
Wembley sensed an opener and Henderson delivered it. Unfortunately for the home fans, it went into his own net.
The Liverpool midfielder attempted to clear Andraz Kirm's cross, but he instead headed it over a diving Hart to give Slovenia the lead.
The away fans rejoiced, but Rooney quickly silenced them. Less than two minutes later, Cesar clipped Rooney's heel in the away box after a clever ball by Wilshere and referee Olegario Benquerenca pointed to the spot. Rooney picked himself up and fired past Handanovic to record his 44th England goal.
The Manchester United man is now England's joint-third highest scorer alongside Jimmy Greaves.
Jagielka gave the home fans a scare when his poor touch allowed Kevin Kampl in on goal, but he could not finish.
England raced up the other end and took the lead through Welbeck. Handanovic's block from an Adam Lallana shot landed straight into Welbeck's path and he volleyed home.
Soon after the Arsenal striker put the result beyond doubt with the pick of the goals. Welbeck entered the box after playing a clever one-two with Sterling and he then stabbed the ball in.
Sterling was booked for stupidly kicking the ball away, but otherwise the afternoon ended on a positive note as England controlled possession and saw out a victory that keeps them firmly on top of Group E with four games gone.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has said 'it kills me' to talk about what Wayne Rooney has done for Manchester United - though he admits the England captain is fully deserving of a place among football's greats.