England fans have adopted Sweet Caroline as one of the team's anthems at Euro 2020
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
It has become the soundtrack to England’s march to the brink of European Championship glory, with even Neil Diamond giving it his seal of approval.
Yet, it can be revealed that Sweet Caroline would have gone completely unheard during the Three Lions’ matches at Wembley but for a light-bulb moment from the stadium’s DJ, Tony Perry.
Every song played at Euro 2020 games requires the approval of tournament organisers and the 1969 Karaoke classic was not on the list originally agreed with Mr Perry when the competition began.
But after experiencing the atmosphere generated by crowds attending England’s group matches, the London DJ, 34, felt something was missing from his set that would get the whole of Wembley singing along.
So he sought approval to introduce Sweet Caroline ahead of the team’s historic last-16 win over Germany, something that was duly granted.
After playing it pre-match last Tuesday and seeing both sets of fans joining in, Mr Perry knew he had a hit on his hands. And when he gave it a second airing after the game, an England anthem was born.
Protocol dictated Three Lions had to be played first – that has long been designated the team’s official victory song – but despite having Vindaloo lined up immediately afterwards, the moment simply demanded Sweet Caroline usurp it.
“The crowd just went berserk,” Mr Perry told Telegraph Sport, revealing how he and Tom Howie, his match director, whipped Wembley up into even more of a frenzy.
“He said, ‘Let them have it again. The world’s been closed for 18 months’.
“The chorus was only 30 seconds on the version I was using so I kept dropping it back in.
“If the atmosphere’s that special, you’ve got some really experienced directors and fan TV crew who are like, ‘You need to let this reach fever pitch’.”
Pump it up Sweet Caroline! pic.twitter.com/S3WkU4GtRm
— Tony Perry (@djtonyperry) June 30, 2021
England captain Harry Kane was so overcome by the resulting scenes, he struggled to conduct a post-match interview, while manager Gareth Southgate enthused: “You can’t beat a bit of Sweet Caroline – that’s a belter.”
Mr Diamond himself even told The Telegraph how “thrilled” he had been to hear England fans singing the iconic number.
Mr Perry said: “That was absolutely magic for him to do that. The Telegraph pulled it out the bag there.”
The DJ said he was reeling from the response – “What the hell is going on?!” – and that his friends had been putting money on the song to reach No 1 if England went on to win Euro 2020.
After they thrashed Ukraine in Rome on Saturday, Sweet Caroline will take centre-stage again in their Wembley semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” proclaimed Mr Perry, who revealed he had been inundated by requests to add other classics to his set list.
He said he had already rejected the triumphalist Another One Bites the Dust were England to reach the final but was last night seeking clearance to play Atomic Kitten’s Whole Again – which became a hit among supporters at the last World Cup who changed the chorus to, “Southgate you’re the one, you still turn me on, football’s coming home again”.
He must also maintain strict neutrality so will balance out any pro-England song with fan favourites from their opponents, including their official Euro 2020 song Danmarks Dynamite by Herrelandsholdet and Alphabeat.
But he said he was planning another “surprise” to follow immediately after Sweet Caroline if England made more history on Wednesday.
Revealing only that the song was a 90s classic, he said: “I’ve just got this vision in my head of the restrictions easing, England getting to a final for the first time since ’66.”
Your Euro 2020 England songbook