What does 'Football's Coming Home' mean? Lyrics to Three Lions song and why England fans sing it at Euro 2020

Origins of the Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds hit which soon became a football anthem for England fans at Euro 96

'Has it ever been home?'

That was the response from Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel when asked his opinion on what it would mean to stop football 'coming home'.

Sign up to our World of Sport newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The remark made by Schmeichel jr, son of Manchester United great Peter, stoked the flames ahead of Denmark's Euro 2020 semi final with England.

England fans belted out 'Football's Coming Home' during Euro 96 - this is what it means. (Pic: Getty)
England fans belted out 'Football's Coming Home' during Euro 96 - this is what it means. (Pic: Getty)

But what does 'football's coming home' really mean, what are its origins and why have England supporters adopted the phrase for recent major tournaments?

Read More

Read More
England’s record at the Euros – and tournament past winners

What does 'Football's Coming Home' mean?

The phrase was used in the song Three Lions (Football's Coming Home) ahead of the 1996 UEFA European Championships held in England.

'Football's coming home' references football returning to the shores of its birth and Euro 96 being the first major tournament to be held in England since the 1966 World Cup.

The song is told from the perspective of sceptical England football fans worn down through the years by all those oh-so-nears, yet still holding hope of future success.

That 1966 World Cup win, a perfectly timed tackle by Bobby Moore on Jairzinho of Brazil in the 1970 World Cup, Gary Lineker equalising against West Germany at Italia '90, Bobby Charlton sending a thunderous long range strike into the top corner against Mexico in '66 and Nobby Stiles dancing with delight with the Jules Rimet trophy later in that same tournament, are all reasons to be cheerful in the eyes of the songwriters.

After the downbeat commentary used at the start of Three Lions from messrs Alan Hansen, Trevor Brooking and Jimmy Hill, comes more upbeat remarks from John Motson, David Coleman and Harry Carpenter.

So, while the phrase may have taken on another meaning over time, the origins of 'football's coming home' are the return of a major tournament to the place that invented the game and fans' never-ending hope.

Why do England fans sing 'football's coming home' at major tournaments?

Nostalgia, perhaps? Euro 96 was played out at the height of Britpop and Cool Britannia when music and football came together in one glorious hope-filled summer.

It's possible that the song takes fans singing it back to those '90s days, evoking memories and feelings from that summer and the experiences shared with friends and family.

Oh, and it's catchy.

The song's sequel Three Lions '98 still tells the story of England football fans, including the heartbreak of Euro '96, though its meaning could be different with the tournament being held in France and not England.

Buoyed by the highs of Euro '96, fans believed England had a realistic chance of winning the World Cup for a second time and bringing the trophy back.

Who wrote Three Lions (Football's Coming Home)?

Comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner teamed up with The Lightning Seeds.

Three Lions (Football's Coming Home) lyrics

I think it's bad news for the English game

We're not creative enough, we're not positive enough

We'll go on getting bad results

It's coming home

It's coming home

It's coming

Football's coming home (x4)

Everyone seems to know the score

They've seen it all before

They just know

They're so sure

That England's gonna throw it away

Gonna blow it away

But I know they can play

'Cause I remember

Three Lions on a shirt

Jules Rimet still gleaming

Thirty years of hurt

Never stopped me dreaming

So many jokes, so many sneers

But all those oh-so-nears

Wear you down

Through the years

But I still see that tackle by Moore

And when Lineker scored

Bobby belting the ball

And Nobby dancing

Three Lions on a shirt

Jules Rimet still gleaming

Thirty years of hurt

Never stopped me dreaming

'What a save, Gordon Banks!'

'Good old England, England that couldn't play football'

'England have got it in the bag'

I know that was then but it could be again

It's coming home

It's coming

Football's coming home

It's coming home

It's coming home

It's coming

Football's coming home (x3)

Three Lions on a shirt (it's coming home, it's coming)

Jules Rimet still gleaming (football's coming home, it's coming home)

Thirty years of hurt (it's coming home, it's coming)

Never stopped me dreaming (football's coming home) (x3)

Three Lions on a shirt