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Here's why football "is coming home"

We try to explain how a self-ironic song from 1996 has become the slogan of the dream of an entire nation

Here's why football is coming home We try to explain how a self-ironic song from 1996 has become the slogan of the dream of an entire nation

In order to better understand what is behind the recent "It's Coming Home" catchphrase, maybe you have to take a step backward, going to analyze what happened in the period from the 1996 European Championship up to the current World Cup semi-finals, which sees England opposite to Croatia. Needless to linger on the simple literal translation ("football that returns home", or better yet, “back where he was born spiritually”): in short, the defeatism of past failures and disappointments is summed up and clashes with all the optimism that Gareth Southgate's squad is accumulating game after game. 

The jingle that you have certainly heard humming and speaking anywhere in the English streets has become an absolute trend even outside the national borders and is not born today, but dates back to Euro 1996 edition, settled in England. The song that the English FA assigned to two English comedians (David Baddiel and Frank Skinner) and to a semi-known group (the Lightning Seeds), called "Three Lions (Football's coming home)" was successfully dusted off and became the manifesto of the new generation, hopefully winning. Remember what happened in Italy with "Seven Nation Army" in 2006?

Now the English have no more fright in pronouncing the words in full for fear that the desire does not happen, but instead they sing it and write it as much as possible, a sign that there is the maximum conviction. If only because of the text (it is explained perfectly in a very interesting FourFourTwo article) and its pace that is growing, just like the rise of this rampant National team. To be surrounded by a flood of video and genial memes that in recent days have been into the web, which does nothing but testify how much 'unconscious' trust there is in the English cultural and football universe.


The turning point of the last two years

It must be said that at the beginning "It's Coming Home" was used mainly by the same English people to make fun of themselves and ironic about the ugly figures of the past. Despite the organization of the most important league in the world, the Premier League, in the last 50 years (or after the only great triumph, that of World Cup hosted in 1966), the performance of the English National team has remained perpetually poor, always widely under expectations of being able to defeat the usual 'big' teams. The inability to win any major tournament despite the contribution of the various Lineker, Gascoigne, Shearer, Owen, Beckham, Terry, Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney left a sense of skepticism, helplessness, and discomfort that the fans themselves couldn't do anything but turn into simple resignation.

But the wind seems to have changed slightly in the last two years, leaving behind another tremendous flop like that of Euro 2016. The new Southgate management, which brought with it many young people already trained with the Under 21 team (Pickford, Butland, Stones, Loftus-Cheek, Lingard and Kane), the recent triumphs of youth selections (only in 2017, the British babies conquered Under 20 and Under 17 World titles and Under 19 European Championships) and a very promising generation on the technical point of view, they are fueling the hopes of a team that has arrived in Russia without the favors of the prediction (indeed, immediately labeled among the teams destined to early failure) and instead is showing an interesting quadrature, full of determining individualities.


Beyond coincidences

Ready to appeal to anything to nurture this dream, awareness in recent days has grown dramatically due to the 'blame' of a series of strange randomness concerning Three Lions. In the glorious year of 1966, for example, four European teams arrived in the World Cup semi-finals. And moreover, in the same year, it's very curious that Manchester City won the English league, Real Madrid the Champions League, Chelsea finished in the fifth place in the standings and Burnley qualified for the European Cups: just like in 2018. Initially, they seemed to be coincidences and have now turned into real motivation so that everything can be realized as if it were already written in the stars.


As if this were not enough, a big curse of the past, that of penalty kicks, was overcome: the victory against Colombia is the first ever during a World Cup (after the defeats of 1990, 1998, 2004 and 2012 editions) and could have definitively unlocked Harry Kane and his teammates, who are now only two games away from a 52-year-long abstinence. And it does not matter that England has not yet faced a real 'big' - if not Belgium in the knockout round with the subs on the pitch - because at the moment has shown that it can safely face even the most difficult opponents.


Croatia penultimate opponent?

The Luzhniki Stadium will most likely be the most important match of the last 28 years since the British stopped in Italy 90 semi-final. Just two years after the match lost badly against Iceland, there are 11 players still in the roster but the history has changed completely, and it is not just about having finally found a reliable goalkeeper after Seaman, James, and Hart. "It's Coming Home" has become a really common feeling that has actively involved the entire population, which now moves together towards the same goal. The criticism unbridled by the media after what could be considered the lowest moment to reach in the ultra-secular football history of the country (what in the video-survey of last months made by COPA 90 was defined as a 'toxic relationship') had undoubtedly influenced the performance of the team and turned into an attitude of support and solidarity: it was necessary once again to reset everything and to make the boys express without excessive pressure.


The performance of a key element such as Raheem Sterling, one of the most targeted by the press, has changed dramatically, even though it has not scored for almost 3 years. The same can be said of the defensive wall and the captain, Harry Kane, who is one step away from winning the title of top scorer and who is managing such a great responsibility at best. "It's Coming Home" has taken the place of "Let's get to work", the incipit present in the wonderful video presentation of the 23 of the squad, and is now everywhere, becoming the necessary boost factor: the same players use it through the social networks, the fans say it on the radio, in the streets, in the pubs, they even manage to plaster the IKEA store of Gateshead after the victory against Sweden. No fear of not making it, just great optimism in view of the final rush: who knows if we can not see the crazy celebrations already seen after the last victories, made of choirs, hugs and pints that fly in the air.