It’s Coming Home, the John Barnes rap and Vindaloo: Top eight England songs released for major tournaments
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There are a lot of aspects to England’s preparations for a major tournament that have become familiar to supporters throughout the years.
In recent times, there has been an inevitable stroll through the qualifying stages, followed by a predictably underwhelming display at a finals. There is usually a widely-reported race for fitness after a key player suffers a poorly-timed injury in the run-up to the tournament. And, of course, there is the release of official and unofficial tournament songs.
There are some that have become familiar to England fans and some that have provided the soundtrack to some memorable summers - and there are some that are best forgotten. 3AddedMinutes selects eight songs that evoke memories of tournaments past.
8. Jerusalem - Fat Les
Two years after the release of Vindaloo (more of that later), Keith Allen and the Fat Les lot returned with a version of Jerusalem. This was released ahead of England’s underwhelming performance at Euro 2000, where a late defeat to Romania saw Kevin Keegan’s side suffer a group stage exit. There are some very familar faces in the video and that was arguably more entertaining that England’s performance at the tournament.
7. We’re on the Ball - Ant and Dec
Released in the summer of 2002 as Sven’s ‘Golden Generation’ were preparing to walk their way to the World Cup with Beckham, Gerrard, Ferdinand and Owen making light work of some challenging opposition. What followed was a struggle through the group stages, an impressive win against Denmark and a quarter-final defeat to a Ronaldo and Ronaldinho-inspired Brazil. The official song was provided by Ant and Dec and it was very catchy. I didn’t say it was good, just catchy.
6. This Time (We’ll get it right) - England World Cup squad
Even with former chart entrants Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan in their midst, England’s hopes of success at the 1982 finals in Spain were ended when they failed to beat the hosts in the second group of the tournament. That was a result that proved the title of their tournament song to be incorrect - but the video is worth a watch for some outstanding fashion sense and hairstyles.
5. Back Home - England World Cup squad
For the first, and as yet only time in their history, England travelled to the World Cup Finals as holders. Memories of Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick, Gordon Banks’ brilliant and Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy were still fresh in the mind as Alf Ramsey’s side travelled to Mexico. Thoughts of retaining the trophy were ended by West Germany in the quarter-finals but it was Brazil’s iconic side that emerged as champions. As for the official song released by England’s squad, it’s a catchy tune and look how smart they all look in the video.
4. Vindaloo - Fat Les
The World Cup in France was a curious one for England. A professional display brought a 2-0 win in their opener against Tunisia, lacklustre in a defeat against Romania and then comfortable winners against Colombia to set up a second round clash with Argentina. That will evoke memories of Owen’s stunning individual goal, Beckham’s red card and another penalty shoot-out defeat despite a heroic display. An updated version of Three Lions was released - but Fat Les burst on to the scene with the rather chaotic Vindaloo. More cameos in the video and an impressive reworking of The Verve’s iconic video for Bitter Sweet Synphony.
3. All Together Now - The Farm
There’s a pattern here! England were brilliant at Euro 2004 as Wayne Rooney’s introduction to life at international level went into overdrive. A heartening display in a defeat against a highly-talented French side offered the promise that England fans craved. Rooney led Sven’s side to a 3-0 win against an awkward Switzerland before replicating his performance in a 4-2 win against Croatia. However, the then-Everton youngster suffered an injury and England suffered yet another penalty shoot-out defeat against Portugal. The Farm re-released the outstanding ‘All Together Now’ ahead of the tournament and it just always works.
2. Three Lions - Skinner, Baddiel and the Lightning Seeds
Updated versions of Three Lions have been released of a number of occasions but it’s the original that will always be the best. England’s outstanding run to the semi-finals of Euro 96 on home soil may have ended with another penalty shoot-out defeat against Germany, but one of the main features of the tournament was how the chorus of Three Lions quickly became the soundtrack of games at Wembley...and remains the same at many tournaments since. Sadly, as yet, football is yet to truly come home. Maybe it got lost somewhere.
1. World in Motion - England New Order
This will not be a surprise to anyone! Italia 90 was the summer that changed a lot for England and World in Motion was a big part of that. For once, the Football Association went for someone decent as New Order linked up with Keith Allen and members of the England squad to release what is unquestionably the greatest football song of all-time. What’s not to like? Bernard Sumner’s effortless tone, the snippets of commentary entwined within the track and, of course, the John Barnes rap that any England fan can easily reel off at the drop of a hat. I bet you’re doing it now, and if so, why not?
And speaking of the John Barnes rap, here is a nice little bonus for you. The unheard - even though they are on YouTube - raps attempted by Barnes and two other members of the England Italia 90 squad.