European domestic leagues are coming to a close and Euro 2020 looms large on the horizon. This means that those fans who like their football with a dose of national pride will be licking their lips at the prospect of soaking up the pre-tournament atmosphere built online by expert pundits, group stage previews and special wagering offers. That’s all without factoring in the sometimes woeful official and unofficial national team anthems that usually rear their heads a few weeks before such tournaments kick off.
Here we take a look at some of those national team anthems, as well as diving Cristiano Ronaldo-style into the ways in which music and the beautiful game have intertwined down through the generations.
Join us, as we go on an away day trip to memory lane, to see just how closely music and football intersect.
Some famous bands are huge football fans who can often be seen cheering on their teams in either VIP boxes or the cheap seats
International Team Anthems
As previously touched upon, international team anthems are usually light-hearted affairs, designed to put smiles on a few faces and, in the case of the English national team, to poke fun at what is often viewed as a hopeless cause.
Back in the day, when players were not preoccupied with their own personal brand or social media feeds, they could be counted on to play leading roles in creating such tunes.
Such was the case with the now infamous John Barnes rap that featured in World in Motion, a song given legitimacy by New Order, as well as the fact that Barnes had genuine rhythm. It is probably just as well his teammates such as Gazza and Glenn Hoddle were not given similar freedom to spit bars.
The only thing England would end up winning at Italia 90 was the fair play award, but in reality they had already won before a ball was kicked, because no other football anthem has lived up to World in Motion, apart from perhaps Three Lions which was roared from the terraces at Euro 96.
The narratives that fuel the soap opera that is football often seep over to leech into multiple genres of music, from rock and roll to dance music
Club Anthems That Cross Borders
While national team anthems are by their very nature targeted at one very specific nation of people, there are club anthems that have universal appeal, with many being shared by clubs from starkly different backgrounds.
A good case in point is You’ll Never Walk Alone. The song was originally featured in a 1945 musical set in Maine, USA, which itself had been adapted from a Hungarian theatre production called Liliom.
Finally, the song ended up in the hands of Liverpudlian band Gerry and the Pacemakers, who made it an Anfield anthem.
Perhaps it was the song’s international and eclectic roots that gave it appeal beyond Merseyside, as clubs such as Glasgow Celtic, FC Twente, and even FC Tokyo adopted it.
After all, no football team or supporter ever wants to find themselves walking alone, and no other song has channelled that tribal togetherness quite like You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Rivalries Fuelled by Song
As well as uniting groups of supporters there are also those songs which only add fuel to the smouldering rivalries that exist in domestic leagues around the world.
However, these tend to be fan produced tracks that have been honed by season ticket holders for years. Most of their lyrics are too spicy to be featured here, but many are surprisingly inventive in their own crude way.
Boundaries Between Art and Sport Continue to Topple
As social media platforms such as YouTube and TikTok continue to demand that users become content creators as well as consumers, footballers and musicians are being dragged ever closer together.
This can be seen in the linkups that Liverpool FC have done with singer/songwriter Jamie Webster, along with Leighton Baines’ long running connections to the music industry, and Jesé Rodríguez – once of Real Madrid fame – who even formed his own reggaetón group.