England v Germany not even close in the song stakes

June 27, 2010

SOCCERTwenty-years ago I was a 13-year-old crying in my living room because Germany had knocked out England on penalties in the semi-final of the Italy 1990 World Cup.

Prior to the game a commentator had bragged, “England have certainly won in the song stakes”. He was right. England had won in the song stakes and after the penalties this other victory gave me something to cling to.

New Order’s World in Motion had a great synthesiser tune, drum machine beats, a tempo you could dance to wildly at a teenage disco party and even a rap by John Barnes. I memorised it like everyone else in my class. (Relive it here).

Compare it to the song by 1990 World Cup winners Germany, and you can savour England’s victory all over again. The team had drafted in German popstar Udo Juergens to help, but famed for hits like “Aber bitte mit Sahne” (But with cream please) there was little he could do.

It has a crude bass line, forgettable tune and the embarrassing site of Juergen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthaeus and co. with tambourines, maracas and headphones around their necks as if they were in the Live Aid recording studio.

To help ease that old pain of 1990 I looked up a few other German World Cup numbers. Look out for the Latin themes and mariachi trumpet interludes in:

Mexico Mi Amor with Matthaeus in a sombrero

The very catchy Ole Espana for 1982.

And Juergens again in 1978 with Buenos Dias Argentina

The songs stretch way back to 1966 when Germany had a young Franz Beckenbauer crooning over coffee and cake.

Germany nearly won the song stakes in 1994 by recording a World Cup song with the Village People, who dance around in hard hats and costumes in front of the team, but as England didn’t go to that World Cup that effort shouldn’t count.

By Euro 1996 it seems Germany had all but given up making songs. Living in Berlin later I saw the song “Footballs coming home” played at a party and every German leap to their feet to dance wildly. “That’s England’s song, why are you dancing?” I asked my German friend. “It is England’s song but Germany’s victory,” was the answer. There was little I could say in response.

PHOTO: Juergen Klinsmann (R) and German team mates Thomas Helmer, Jens Todt and goalie Andreas Koepke (L-R) sing “We are the Champions” in front of 25,000 supporters from the balcony of the Frankfurt city hall, July 1, 1996. Germany won the Euro ’96 championships last night after beating the Czech-Republic in the final by 2-1. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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