7 things you never knew about Baddiel and Skinner’s Three Lions

More than 20 years after the song topped the charts here are seven things you should know

Will Gareth Southgate be celebrating come Friday?Image Getty

On June 27 1996, David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and Ian Broudie from the Lightning Seeds made football/pop music history after hitting the no.1 spot with ‘Three Lions’.

Though it was not the official song of Euro ’96 – that honour went to Simply Red and the atrocious ‘We’re In This Together’ – it’s a song that continues to capture the spirit of the nation.

England may have gone down to Germany on penalties all those years ago, but it remains a firm favourite with fans young and old. 

With that in mind, here are a few things you may not have known about ‘Three Lions’.


The crowd noise heard in the track’s intro is actually sampled from a UEFA Cup tie between Liverpool and Danish side Brondby at Anfield from October 1995.

Having held the Reds to a draw at home, the Danes advanced with a 1-0 victory on Merseyside sealed with a goal from Dan Eggen. The noise you can hear in the intro is the Brondby fans jubilantly cheering their team on.


German fans took a liking to ‘Three Lions’ upon its release, with the song climbing to the heady heights no.16 in the German pop charts.

Big in Germany
Big in Germany

Baddiel and Skinner even agreed to perform the song live on German TV that same year, though they insisted on wearing replica England 1966 shirts for the occasion.


‘Three Lions’ is one of only three songs to reach the top of the UK charts on two separate occasions with two different sets of lyrics.

It is joined by Mambo No.5, which was done by Lou Bega and later Bob the Builder, and Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid and Band Aid 30.


In 2014, the song courted controversy after a Scottish branch of Morrisons was forced to ban the song from being played during that year’s World Cup.

Apparently, several shoppers complained about the use of the track, claiming that it reminded them of Scotland’s footballing woes.

The gang

Shopper Christopher Vale told the Daily Record: “It’s just rubbing in the fact that England are playing in Brazil and Scotland didn’t qualify.”

Probably reminds them of that penalty at Euro ’96 too.


BBC commentary legend John Motson ranks ‘Three Lions’ as his favourite football song.

Motty's Moment
Motty's Moment

When a rendition of the song broke out among England fans during the national team’s 1-0 victory over Paraguay at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt back in 2006 Motty said:

“As football songs go, ‘Three Lions’ is certainly the best.”


‘Three Lions’ has featured in the UK Top 40 on no fewer than nine occasions since the song’s original release. Having peaked at no.1 three times, the track has hit the top of the charts once again in the wake of England’s heroics in 2018.

The most bizarre incident came in 2010, when a re-recorded version of the song featuring Russell Brand and Robbie Williams reached a rather disappointing no.21.

It was made all the more galling for the fact that a re-released version of the original reached no.10 that very same summer. 


French teams are notorious for adopting  odd songs to welcome their players on to the pitch.

For example, for several years Paris Saint-Germain  would walk on to the dulcet tones of Phil Collins’ 80s hit ‘Who Said I Would’.

Three Lions fans
Three Lions fans It's all a bit odd

Racing Club de Strasbourg, meanwhile, adopted ‘Three Lions’ as their anthem and have walked out to the track at every home game ever since.

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