The greatest football songs to get you in the mood for England v Germany tonight in Euro 2020
The game is a mere matter of hours away – and how better to prepare for England's eagerly anticipated Euro 2020 clash with Germany tonight than with the power of music?
We think the following are the perfect tunes to get everyone ready to cheer on our boys as they prepare to be knocked out on penalties. Er, we mean, win handsomely!
Three Lions – Skinner & Baddiel & Lightning Seeds
Surely the ultimate classic? A song unveiled in 1996 when the nation was excitedly preparing itself to host the tournament, the song has long since established itself as the go to tune to listen to whenever England take part in a tournament. Normally it flies into the top 10 when we do well and then disappears without a trace the moment we get knocked out.
In 2018, for example, when we reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia, it leapt from number 24 to number one in the week we played against Croatia. And no sooner had the final whistle gone, dropped the following week to 97. A record for the biggest fall from the top spot.
But it was also that rarest of things – a football song actually embraced by the fans and sung by them too on the terraces (or in the seats as it is today).
Reworked for the 1998 World Cup, two years later – lyrics and the commentary clips were changed – it was an ode to what it is like to be an England fan; regularly disappointed yet always optimistic we might play well. It hit the target in stunning style. If you only listen to one song today, make it this one.
We're On The Ball – Ant & Dec
Ant & Dec have been in the spotlight for nigh on 30 years now (just to make you feel old) and music has never really been something they have excelled at.
It's not, mind you, for the want of trying. Remember their 'classic' Let's Get Ready to Rhumble under their Byker Grove aliases of PJ and Duncan in 1994? It enjoyed an unlikely revival in 2013 when the duo performed it on their Saturday Takeaway show and it promptly shot to number one in the charts. Shouldn't mock them too much. They've actually had a dozen top 20 hits over the years.
But their last release – and the one which deserves a spin today – is We're On the Ball.
The track was the official England song for the 2002 World Cup campaign and includes the classic line: "Sven's the man, he's got a plan, we've found a super Swede."
We hadn't. Despite Michael Owen giving the nation hope by taking the lead against Brazil in the quarter-final, we managed to lose with Ronaldinho famously catching David Seaman off his line from about a mile outside the England penalty area.
However, that shouldn't stop you enjoying the song which, all these years later will have you signing along to the immortal lines of how goals were scored on a rare occasion we actually beat Germany (the memorably 5-1 drubbing we dished out in 2001): "It's Neville to Campbell, Campbell to Rio, Rio to Scholesy, Scholesy Gerrard, Gerrard to Beckham, Beckham to Heskey, Heskey to Owen."
They don't write them like that anyone more.
Vindaloo – Fat Les
The mid-Nineties was a time where 'new lad' culture was all the rage. Everyone read FHM and Chris Evans was popular. Dark days indeed.
And Vinadloo by Fat Les was, in many ways, the epitome of that era.
The group, which comprised actor Keith Allen, Blur bassist Alex James and the artist Damien Hirst, produced the song which was billed as the unofficial song for England in the 1998 World Cup. A tournament we actually performed impressively in until a petulant David Beckham got himself sent off during the crunch quarter-final with Argentina and we got knocked out in a penalty shoot-out. No surprise there.
The song itself was quite a cunning blend of football-style chants with the classic "we're going to score one more than you" being an obvious fan favourite.
The video was a spoof of The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony (which, in turn, had stolen heavily from the one-shot Massive Attack video for Unfinished Sympathy) and featured, among others, Matt Lucas, David Walliams and comedian Paul Kaye.
By 2000, Fat Les reworked Jerusalem as the officially endorsed song for the Euro 2000 campaign – which inspired us to record a rare win over Germany but not enough to get us out of the group stages.
Nessun Dorma – Pavarotti
You can normally tell how well England do in a tournament by the way in which everything connected with the event becomes a memory-trigger to a certain time and place.
The BBC have long been a dab hand at gauging the mood for the all-important title sequences to its live games and the choice of a 1972 rendition of Nessun Dorma as the theme music for its Italy 1990 World Cup coverage was rather inspired (see the clip above for how it appeared as part of the Beeb's coverage).
An operatic gem which builds to a glorious crescendo fitted perfectly with the mood and when England famously managed to get into the semi-final, we all went out and bought (a stream was a small river not a way to access music back then) enough copies to send it to number two in the charts.
Play it and be taken back to lucky wins against Egypt and Cameroon and a last-gasp victory over Belgium and then shed a tear as you remember Gazza getting booked and blubbing during a semi-final which, inevitably, ended up in us losing on penalties to ruddy Germany.
World in Motion – England New Order
Weird things happen in pop music – and none could be odder than the band which once were the doom-laden Joy Division penning a perky little number as the official England song for the 1990 World Cup.
Stranger still, when John Barnes is recruited to do a rap in the middle. But then 1990 was an odd period for football. Dogged by hooliganism for years, much has been written about how the England team's performance – and this song for that matter – helped change perceptions of the beautiful game.
After all, when Barnesy raps "we ain't no hooligans, this ain't a football song, three lions on my chest, I know we can't go wrong", you can't help but believe him.
Before this, all football songs tended to involve the squad lining up Band Aid-style and all singing about how we were going to bring the trophy bank home.
It went to number one and changed the much-derided football song for ever.
Back Home – England World Cup Squad 1970
In 1970, England travelled to a World Cup for what, until this day, was a unique experience. They were the holders; travelling to Mexico with a view to repeating the glory of that famous Wembley Stadium moment four years before (you may possibly have heard of our victory against West Germany? We don't normally like to mention it much).
And so a song was produced which, while old-school in its squad sing-a-long style was actually relatively modest – and something of a tribute to those watching the game in their armchairs.
Lyrics include: "Once more we will meet with the best, like before we'll be put to the test, oh we will give all we've got to give, for the folks back home."
That's what you got back then under that nice Mr Bobby Moore.
Shame we lost in the quarter finals. You probably don't need reminding, but we were beating West Germany 2-0 before they came back to win 3-2 in extra time. Just remember that if we start well tonight.
This Time – England World Cup Squad 1982
Having failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cup finals, Ron Greenwood led England to Spain in 1982 and to celebrate the occasion we were punished with This Time (We'll Get It Right). It was just asking to be proved wrong.
And as we stumbled out of the tournament in the second group stage the song rang hollow.
Strangely the Ivor Novello prize for song-writing wasn't awarded to those behind the song which included the lines: "We are Ron's 22, hear the roar, of the red, white and blue, this time, more than any other time, this time, we're gonna find a way, find a way to get away...to win the cup."
We didn't. But at least we didn't lose a match – and that included a 0-0 draw against, you guessed, it the Germans.
Carnaval de Paris – Dario G
This is one of those songs which has somehow transcended its modest origins to become intrinsically linked with all things football. And it has its musical roots among the fans themselves.
Legend has it the tune was adopted by Sheffield Wednesday fans after they heard fans of FC Ultrecht during a pre-season tour on the Netherlands in the mid-1990s and was brought back home and adopted as a sing-a-long on the terraces.
A popular tune pinched by many a fan around the world, it was the basis for this lively little number by English trio Dario G.
Originally recorded to mark the France 98 World Cup, you may not immediately recognise it from its name, but give it a twirl and you'll be humming away.
Now, all that remains to be said is: C'mon England!