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How 'Seven Nation Army' Became A Football Anthem

By Matthew Horton

Matthew Horton on Google+

Posted on 20 Jun 12


If you saw England's Euro 2012 goalfest against Ukraine on Tuesday (19 June), you'll have heard the crowd chanting The White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army' when all the, er, goal went in. How did Jack White's gonzo riff come to this? And which other riffs are ripe for the imitating next time Wayne Rooney sticks one in?

It was Italy where the 'Seven Nation Army' chant really took off. Now known as the "Po po po po po po po" (or however many "po"s you fancy) song, legend says it started in a Milan bar in 2003 when visiting Club Brugge fans heard the original on the stereo and started singing along. A couple of years later Brugge played AS Roma in a UEFA Cup tie, and the Italians took it home with them again.

Yes, the saga sounds like total baloney but the chant's popularity has mushroomed – and now it's those erudite England fans taking it on, doubtless relieved there are no tricky words. Oh come on, I'm kidding. The song is a regular feature at American football matches too.

It's not the only riff that's made a splendid wordless football chant. With startling symmetry, Chelsea fans have long bellowed the fanfare from The Fratellis' 'Chelsea Dagger', and Arsenal fans found a way to replicate the brassy interlude from Andy Williams' 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' when serenading Freddie Ljungberg back in the early 2000s.

Frankly, it all makes a change from a billion variations on 'Guantanamera' or 'Go West', and negates that weary need to shoehorn footballers' names into well-worn lyrics. But what else would do the job? 'Smoke On The Water'? 'Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)'? Bit cheaty, that one. How about 'We Found Love'?

I'd like to hear the England fans master M83's 'Midnight City' in time for the final.


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