Red Sox

Here’s why England fans have been singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ at Euro 2020

Even Neil Diamond has weighed in on England's newest unofficial anthem.

Sweet Caroline England fans
Harry Kane salutes England fans at Wembley Stadium following the 2-1 semifinal win over Denmark in Euro 2020. Photo by Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images

It wasn’t baseball, and it wasn’t Fenway Park, but Red Sox fans would’ve felt right at home on Wednesday night at England’s Wembley Stadium.

Following the men’s national team’s 2-1 win over Denmark in the semifinal of Euro 2020 — sending England to its first major tournament final since the 1966 World Cup — thousands of fans belted out “Sweet Caroline” in celebration.

Players joined in for the latest rendition of what has become an unofficial anthem for England during its run in the international tournament.

This, it should be said, is not a longstanding Wembley tradition. In fact, it only began recently following England’s Round of 16 win over Germany earlier in Euro 2020.

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According to Wembley DJ Tony Parry, it was his chance selection that caused what has become a national phenomenon.

“I was going to play ‘Vindaloo’, but went with my gut,” Parry told Talksport. And despite the longstanding soccer rivalry between the two nations, “Sweet Caroline” managed to unite the fanbases.

“Even the German fans were belting it out in the end,” Parry explained. “It’s a song that all fans can enjoy.”

“The match director said in my in-ear, ‘the world’s been closed for 18 months,'” Parry remembered, “‘let ’em have it.'”

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It was a spontaneous moment that left England captain Harry Kane “speechless,” and drew a postgame mention from the team’s manager, Gareth Southgate.

“To hear them at the end, I mean you can’t beat a bit of ‘Sweet Caroline,’ can you?” Southgate joked. “That’s a belter, really.”

The song, written by Neil Diamond in 1969, has been a Red Sox tradition long before its recent English adoption. It was first played at Fenway Park in 1997, and has since become both beloved and detested by the Fenway Faithful.

Diamond, 80, recently told The Telegraph that it was a “thrill to hear everybody singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ at Wembley.”

Even one of the writers of England’s other unofficial anthem, “Three Lions” — written ahead of Euro 1996 and popularizing the English catchphrase, “it’s coming home” — acknowledged “Sweet Caroline’s” current favor amongst the fans.

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“I thought ‘Sweet Caroline’ went slightly better than ‘Three Lions’ in the post-match sing-song,” musician Frank Skinner admitted on his radio show following the win over Germany. “I felt like we’d beat Germany and lost to Neil Diamond in extra time.”

The popularity of the song has spread as the team’s run through knockout stages has continued. Prior to Wednesday’s semifinal, Prince Charles invited the Coldstream Guards regiment to play instrumental versions of both “Three Lions” and “Sweet Caroline” at Clarence House.

Euro 2020 — delayed for a year due to COVID-19 — reaches its climax in Sunday’s final. England, playing once again at Wembley, face Italy at 3 p.m. ET.

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