Why are England called the Three Lions? What are the origins of England football team's nickname and badge

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A three lions badge is displayed on the shirts worn by England's players at World Cup 2022, in keeping with the Football Association's history

Three lions on the shirt. It's part of England's make up from the badge on the shirts to the words in the iconic football anthem by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and The Lightning Seeds.

England fans could be heard belting out the words to Three Lions (Football's Coming Home) whenever the national team play, especially at Wembley Stadium, or most recently at the Al Bayt Stadium following the Three Lions win over Senegal at the last 16 match at the 2022 Qatar World Cup

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England's Three Lions badge. (Pic: Getty)England's Three Lions badge. (Pic: Getty)
England's Three Lions badge. (Pic: Getty)

Three Lions fans have recently adopted another anthem - Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline - which could be heard ringing round Wembley after wins over Germany and Denmark.

But how did England's national football team come to wear the three lions badge, how did it become their nickname and what are the other nicknames for sides at Euro 2020?

Why are England called the Three Lions?

Jude Bellingham sports the Three Lions during England’s round of 16 match against SenegalJude Bellingham sports the Three Lions during England’s round of 16 match against Senegal
Jude Bellingham sports the Three Lions during England’s round of 16 match against Senegal | Getty Images

The England national football team are nicknamed the Three Lions because of the three lions featured on the badge on the shirts worn by the players.

In short, England wear the badge featuring the three lions because they are representatives of the Football Association whose logo is the three lions crest.

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England's footballers have worn the logo of the Football Association - the three lions - since their first international fixture in 1872, which was played against Scotland.

What is the history of the three lions badge?

The reason why the Football Association and the England football team wear a badge featuring three lions goes back to the 12th Century battlefield.

Standards with three gold lions on a red background were carried into battle to inspire the troops, with the logo adopted by the Football Association when it was formed in 1863.

The history books show that the design originated from Henry I, who had a lion on his standard, which became two when he married the daughter of a man who also had a lion on his shield.

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Two became three when Henry II married the daughter of a man who also adopted the lion.

Richard the Lionheart adopted the image of three golden lions on a scarlet background as a symbol of the English throne and it has been used in the Royal Arms ever since.

Have England always worn a three lions badge?

Yes - ever since the first international match England played against Scotland in 1872 have the national team worn a three lions badge on their shirts. The design was changed in 1949 to take the crown that sat on top of the lions off so it wasn't the same as the English cricket team, which still displays the image to this day.

In May 2021, the Football Association said it was changing from the traditional three lions badge for its grassroots programmes, replacing it with a lion, a lioness and a cub.

Nicknames of World Cup 2022 teams

England will play France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Saturday 10 December 2022.

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