If you’ve got any English friends at all, they’ve probably been casually dropping the following phrase into the group chat over the past week or so: ‘It’s coming home’. But what’s coming home exactly? And where did this phrase come from?
The answer to the first question is simple. Football (that’s soccer to you) is coming home. England is currently competing in the 2020 European Championships (known as the Euros). A contest where the best teams in Europe compete every four years to determine the European Champions. As England has progressed through the tournament, the feeling of ‘it’s coming home’ among English football fans has grown intensely.
But why is ‘It’s coming home‘ as a phrase? Why not ‘Come On England’ or ‘Let’s goooooooo’? The phrase is in reference to a single released in 1996 called “Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home). The song was written by English comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner with Britpop band the Lightning Seeds.
The track itself is an absolute banger. All the trademarks of Britpop are here, the big guitar sound, little nods to 60s psychedelia, and a chorus that will not leave your head no matter what. Even if you have no idea about the history of football in England, it’s hard not to get caught up in the feeling that, maybe, it’s coming home. It’s an underdog feeling. One to be softly whispered when thing start to go well, that swells into a top of your lungs chant when it looks like it’s finally going to happen.
The lyrics detail how even though it had been thirty years (at time of release, it’s now well over fifty!) that England had won a major tournament. The detractors always write off the team, but these guys believe that England could win the competition. ‘It’s coming home’ refers to the view that football itself is an English invention, so for England to win the competition would prove that the title had ‘come home’ to its birthplace.
In the 1996 Euros, England was knocked out by Germany via penalty shootout (a team that has a history of beating England in major tournaments). Since the track’s release, England’s performance in Euros and World Cups have been mixed. Fans continue to suffer from pundits and the media writing off the team’s chances. The most recent groundswell for ‘It’s coming home’ before this tournament was the 2018 World Cup, where England ended up finishing fourth having lost to Belgium in the Third-place play off.
Time will tell if England will win the 2020 Euros, and maybe we’ll get to hear it sung in full voice by English fans at the end of the tournament. If it’s anything like how they sang it below after they beat Germany, I can only imagine the noise.