What Does ‘It’s Coming Home’ Mean?

“It’s Coming Home” is the phrase that has been used a motto for England’s World Cup campaign in Russia. The phrase is the chorus from the song “Three Lions” which was written as the official theme song for the European Championships in 1996. That tournament was held in England and saw England go to the semi finals amid a swell of national soccer pride. England was beaten by Germany in the penultimate game after current coach Gareth Southgate missed a penalty in a shootout following a 1-1 tie.

The song was written by English comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel along with Ian Brodie, the lead singer of 1990’s indie band The Lightening Seeds. During a BBC documentary on those European Championships, David Baddiel said that they had no idea the song would take off the way it did. He said that it was only after England beat Scotland 2-0 in their second game that the stadium MC played the song with the crowd singing the chorus, “It’s Coming Home.” Baddiel said that the duo had no idea that the crowd knew the lyrics to the song. By the time England reached the semi finals, the announcer stopped talking prior to the game so that the television audience could sample in the atmosphere of the England fans singing the song:

The English dream ended in 1996 with Southgate’s penalty miss. Prior to England’s game with Croatia in the World Cup semi finals, Southgate admitted that he couldn’t listen to the song for years afterward because he associated it with his miss.

The song was reworked multiple times for subsequent tournaments that England participated in but it wasn’t until 2018 when the song took on a life of its own. As England began to perform, their fans started to believe that football was indeed “Coming Home.” The mood was no better encapsulated than in the memes that circulated online. The memes tended to take a scene from a movie or TV show that showed someone playing music. That music is then dubbed over with, “Three Lions.”

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