Wednesday is a big one for England fans. With France already in the World Cup final, England’s semifinal match against Croatia will determine its fate for this year’s Cup. A team that entered the tournament this year without much fanfare, hype around England has now reached a fever pitch as the team attempts to win its first World Cup since 1966.

You can see it in the Three Lions’ catchphrase this year: “It’s coming home.” “It,” of course, refers to the World Cup, whereas “home” refers to England. While there are those that (semi-correctly) assume that this refers to the fact that soccer as we know it was first played in England in the mid-19th century, there’s a bit more to it than that.

Where the song actually comes from is … a real song. From over two decades ago. The song “Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)” by The Lightning Seeds is the actual origin of the catchphrase, and it’s become an anthem of sorts for English fans throughout this World Cup. Comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner also had hands in the creation of the song.

The song’s inception, however, wasn’t inspired by winning The World Cup or even hosting it. It was inspired by England hosting the European Championship. Prior to that, it hadn’t hosted a major tournament since 1966 — when it both hosted and won the World Cup.

The lyrics are pretty simple, though they do have some of that trademark English pessimism peppered in there. “30 years of hurt” is said numerous times throughout the song, for example.

That song, however, is now the Three Lions rallying cry, and expect to hear a whole lot more of it in the coming days.

Of course, there is an alternative explanation.

Maybe it’s coming home, maybe it’s not. But before we know, England must first get through Croatia in the semifinal match on Wednesday. It’s not an easy out, but England has a pretty fantastic team itself, as we’ve seen throughout this Cup.


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