The unofficial anthem of the English soccer team that’s captivated the world at this year’s Euros has now almost made it to the top of the charts, with the 1996 hit Three Lions and especially its line “football’s coming home” ringing around England as the team heads into its first major tournament final in more than 50 years.
The song by English comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, along with rock band Lightning Seeds, has surged to No. 3 on Spotify’s “Viral 50 Global” chart, which ranks songs based on social media shares.
Thousands of English fans belted the song in unison at the end of England’s Euro 2020 semifinal win over Denmark on Wednesday, marking the first time an English men’s team has reached a major final (Euros or World Cup) since England won the 1966 FIFA World Cup.
The song—which is a self-deprecating yet hopeful look at the England team—has had a renaissance among the fanbase during England’s deep runs at the 2018 World Cup and the Euros over the past month.
Three Lions was first released to coincide with England hosting the 1996 Euros, which ended in heartbreak when the team fell to Germany on penalty kicks in the semifinal.
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England will face Italy at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, in what will only be the second major tournament final the team has ever been in. England defeated West Germany 4-2 after extra time in the 1966 World Cup final.
The song’s title Three Lions reflects the three lions that appear in England’s royal arms and the national team’s crest, while lines in the song’s chorus like “it’s coming home” and “football’s coming home” reference soccer’s early history. It’s widely accepted the sport developed in England during the mid-1800s, before spreading and becoming the most popular sport across the world. The piece also refers to repeated heartbreaks for the English team through “30 years of hurt,” since it had been 30 years since the World Cup win at the time of its release. Unfortunately for England fans, the tradition of coming up short didn’t stop over the next quarter of a century, which many fans believe made the song’s theme even more relevant over the years.
Prince Charles called on the band of the Coldstream Guards to play an instrumental version of Three Lions outside his London residence, Clarence House, before Wednesday’s semifinal against Denmark.
England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, was the lone English player who failed to score his penalty kick in the Euro 1996 semifinal, allowing Germany to knock England out of the tournament.