New England World Cup Anthem

England fans have been chanting “Football Comes Home” for almost 30 years, and now ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a new version of the song has been released, giving them that familiar refrain: “Three Lions”.

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The song has been a terrace anthem since it was first released in 1996 by comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner and the band The Lightning Seeds as the official song of the host country of that year’s European Championship (with the slogan “Football Comes Home.”)

Aside from the peppy melody, part of the song’s enduring charm is the fact that it laments the “30 years of injury” in the original lyrics – a reference to when the England men’s team took their only major international honor at the 1966 World Cup – ticking still slowly going up. They’ve come close to resetting that clock in recent years, but sadly the count now stands at 56 years of injury.

England failed to make the most of their home game at Euro ’96, losing to eventual winners Germany on penalties in the semi-finals after Gareth Southgate – now England manager – missed a crucial penalty shoot-out.

That didn’t stop the nation from loving the song, however, and it topped the UK Singles Chart on two separate occasions over the summer.

A new version was then re-released two years later to coincide with the 1998 World Cup, complete with a new set of lyrics referring to England’s deep run at Euro ’96 and how their “heroes dressed in gray” had renewed hope for one ever expectant nation.

It wasn’t to be – England were knocked out on penalties by Argentina in the round of 16 after David Beckham’s red card and further aches and pains – but that didn’t stop Three Lions from setting the national team’s exploits to music for the next two decades.

The song has been given new life since 2018, when Southgate’s England advanced to the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and then finished runners-up to Italy at Euro 2020 – after losing (yep, you guessed it) the final at Wembley in the Penalty shootouts and England fans will keep telling each other, leading up to and throughout each tournament, that ‘it’s coming home’, much to the amazement and ridicule of the rest of the world.

On the back of this new wave of popularity, Baddiel and Skinner have returned ahead of Worlds 2022 with a brand new version of Three Lions – an updated version of the classic with a new title that serves as a nod to the odd timing of this year’s tournament.

After the Lightning Seeds were brought back on board to provide the music, “Three Lions (It’s Coming Home for Christmas)” was released this week with another set of revised lyrics.

Amid a flurry of Christmassy puns (“Three Lions on a Sleigh”, “The Christmas Tree Formation”) and lopsided jokes about FIFA “When they chose Qatar they should have checked VAR”), there are also references to the England women’s team to successfully bring football “home” at Euro 2022 in the summer. In fact, the video even begins with a clip of the lionesses celebrating their triumph by serenading trainer Sarina Wiegman with her very own rendition of the song.

Of course, the iconic “It’s Coming Home” chorus became somewhat redundant after the Lionesses finally did just that by beating Germany at Wembley, but Baddiel and Skinner have revealed that they felt the need to belt out their anthem again to to help the men team also in Qatar.

“We couldn’t resist the fact that the World Cup happened at Christmas and people have said in the past that football songs are a little bit cheesy and obviously Christmas carols are a little bit cheesy,” Skinner told BBC’s The One Show. “

“In math, two negatives make one positive, so we think there’s so much kitsch in it that it’s going to be a classic.”

Baddiel added: “The Lionesses brought it home, football came home and some would say that’s the end of the song, stop singing it.

“But we decided to try again because the boys didn’t make it home.”

Whatever you think of the new version (even Baddiel and Skinner themselves sing “a football Christmas carol, not at all demeaning…”), it’s likely you’ll still hear English fans in Qatar singing “It’s Coming Home.” at other tournaments for many years.


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