Euro 2021: why do the English sing “Football’s coming home”?



Penalty. Harry Kane, the Three Lions striker, stands a few yards from the ball. A few seconds in suspense, the English supporters are in suspense. Goal. The crowd, dressed in red and white colors, goes wild and begins to sing the famous unofficial anthem: “Football’s coming home”.

Wednesday July 7, before the semi-final – won – against Denmark, it was the British Guard who played the song, at the request of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

But where does this song come from?

Created in 1996 at the request of the English football federation, to support the organization of the Euro in the birthplace of football, it returns every two years, during major international competitions such as the Euro or the World Cup. .

While the battle of the “Britpop” or English pop, divided the country and the world between fans of “Blur” and “Oasis”, it is the group “The Lightning Seeds” who had been chosen to write this song.

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At the antipodes of bellicose or cockade songs sometimes sung by English supporters, such as “No Surrender to the IRA” or “Ten German Bombers”, the group’s composer, Ian Broudie had chosen a humorous, almost parodic note. “I didn’t want the song to be ‘Angleterrist’ or ‘nationalist'”, he explained to Guardian In 1994.

The lyrics are full of irony, between disillusion and hope: “Everyone seems to know the result, we have all seen it before, we know it well, we are sure that England will spoil everything, will miss everything”. As a premonition, since that year, England failed – at home – against Germany at the gates of the final. And since then, every Euro has been the same disappointment.

Ian Broudie wanted a song that “Or more about what it is to be a football fan, which, at 90%, is to lose. Most of a football fan’s life is made up of disappointment ”, he added. He had thus refused that players sing with the group, instead enlisting David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, two actors of the comedy series “Football Fantasy League” on the BBC.

The success was immediate. “It’s user-friendly, people care, there’s that huge, repetitive ‘It’s coming home’ catchphrase that has become practically a slogan for every tournament. It’s full of deadpan English humor, the rhymes are simple, there’s a big chorus and the lyrics are made so that anyone feels like even bawling it out, they’ll sing along near fair “Frank Skinner explained in a podcast in 2019.

A transnational success

The song was so popular with English players that Paul Gascoigne, the eccentric leader of the time, refused to get off the team bus until it had been played fully, he also said.

On the opponent’s side, even the song was a great success. Jürgen Klinsmann, former coach and striker of the German team, had revealed that the Germans sometimes sing it when going to matches.

No. 1 in sales

The song is once again number 1 in sales or downloads, and even the only number 1 of “Lightning Seeds” in six albums recorded, especially during the World Cup 2018, also interrupted before the final. For 25 years, supporters have been singing it, each time hoping for a victory for their team. Sunday July 11, the day of the final, this time they hope to sing it without rancor.

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