As radio stations up and down the country dust off Baddiel and Skinner’s iconic football anthem Three Lions – it can only mean one thing – Football’s Coming Home!
The song has a special meaning this year because England’s Wembley Stadium will be hosting the final – just as it did at Euro ’96 when Three Lions was originally released.
The lyrics ’30 years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming’ have now become 56 years, but is this England’s time? Can Gareth Southgate and his squad go one step further than they did at the 2018 World Cup? Will England lift the nation’s spirits and make it to the Euro final at the home of football?
If the bookmakers are to be believed, the answer is quite possibly ‘yes’. As things stand, England are 5/1 joint favourites with Belgium at several of the UK’s largest betting firms. That’s a shorter price than current World Champions France, tournament specialists Germany, reigning Euro winners Portugal, and let’s not forget Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, who are all in with a shout.
It would take a brave punter to put his life savings – something we strongly advise against doing – on England at that price.
Yet, even the media have started to hype up the lads’ chances. The BBC ran a story with the headline ‘An embarrassment of riches’, which referred to the vast wealth of attacking talent Gareth Southgate has to pick from. When reeling off the names Kane, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish, Sancho, Foden and Maddison, the mind starts to wander – what if those boys all clicked in the summer?
Unfortunately, football isn’t played on paper, and if England’s previous Euro record is anything to go by, even the most optimistic supporters would have doubts. At the last tournament in 2016, the Three Lions were eliminated in the round of 16. In 2012, they did reach the quarters, but when you look at the stats and see Joleon Lescott as the country’s joint-top scorer that year, you could argue England overachieved. We won’t even mention 2008 – that’s because they didn’t even qualify for the main tournament.
However, this time things are different. England are on home soil – just like they were in the 1966 World Cup, which they won, and just like in Euro ’96 when they reached the semi-final, only to suffer the heartbreak of losing to Germany on penalties (again).
And as the summer draws ever closer, with the St George appearing in bedroom windows and poking out cars, a feeling of ‘England Expects’ will – like always – sweep the country. The eyes of the nation will be glued to their TVs, cheering their heroes on in glory and defeat. We don’t know if this England team will write their name into the annals of the beautiful game’s history, but they do have a strong chance because “I know they can play, cause I remember, Three Lions on a shirt.”