Over the years many football players have been involved in the traditional FA Cup final songs and some may have even taken part in a World Cup/Euros track for their country. What you rarely ever see however, is a footballer having a music career (of sorts) alongside his original job. Here’s a look at 6 former England internationals who have had a song in the UK top 75.
Kevin Keegan – Head Over Heels In Love (1979)
Chart Position: 31
Fresh from winning the Ballon d’Or for the second consecutive year, Kevin Keegan was at the height of his popularity in the 1979. So the natural progression for one of the best players in the world would be to bring a record out in the close season, right? Well, the England captain thought so. Unfortunately the British public chose not to get behind Keegan and the song came in at a poor position of 31. The music video shows Keegan surrounded by what can only be described as the best in 70’s CGI, his trademark perm and a pair of flares that wouldn’t look out of place in Saturday Night Fever. Keegan is clearly reading from a screen during his performance, making the whole thing look like an average Friday night karaoke. Unlike the colourful video, the song itself is pretty dull and makes you wonder what was actually in it for Keegan back then. Incredibly the track made the top 10 in Germany where he was playing at the time for Hamburg, which I’m sure you’ll agree not the greatest achievement when you consider the success of David Hasselhoff in the German charts.
Glenn Hoddle & Chris Waddle – Diamond Lights (1987)
Chart Position: 12
Tottenham Hotspur and England duo released ‘Diamond Lights’ in 1987, just before their shock FA Cup final defeat to Coventry City. The idea for the song came after the pair made an appearance for their personal sponsors Budget Rent-A-Car, when they did an impromptu karaoke performance at the company’s annual awards. A watching friend who had ties in the music business then got in touch with writer Bob Puzey. Having written for Nolan Sisters in the 70s’ – including the hit ‘I’m In The Mood For Dancing’, Puzey agreed to write for Spurs’ midfielders after a quick audition. I do have a soft spot for 80s’ music, as I had it rammed down my throat growing up by my exuberant mother (thanks Mum), so I actually don’t mind the song. With a drum machine and an electric guitar solo included, it epitomises the 1980s. Whether that is a good or bad thing, I’ll leave up to you. Their performance on Top Of The Pops however, is quite embarrassing. Unable to lip sync along properly with the track, Chris Waddle especially looks way out of his depth, with both doing their best ‘Dad dancing’ in front of a smoke machine. Glenn Hoddle is definitely more into it and does his best to carry them through to the end, but he still falls short. Surprisingly, a respectable chart position of number 12 gave the duo comfort that it wasn’t a complete waste of time. The thing I have never understood about these two though, is why they called themselves Glenn and Chris, when their surnames gave them the chance to be called Hoddle and Waddle?
Paul Gascoigne – Fog On The Tyne (1990)
Chart Position: 2
By far the highest charted song on this list, this rework of an old Lindisfarne hit reached number 2 in the UK charts, just as the original did in 1971. The band themselves were at odds on whether to collaborate on the track with Gascoigne, which led to a couple of of the band quitting, unhappy the band selling were out for chart success. The remaining members pushed forward with the song after Gascoigne’s agent Mel Stein had approached the band with the idea. When released in October 1990, ‘Gazza’ was at the height of his powers following a fantastic World Cup for England where he came back a household name, so his popularity alone will have helped the song to chart so high. The track itself is catchy, upbeat and has a chorus that everybody can remember. However, the opening lines of ”Sitting in a sleazy snack-bar, sucking sickly sausage rolls”, is a mouthful for anyone to say, never mind the slurred speech of Paul Gascoigne. But to be fair to him this has always been a good natured, fun song, which no doubt still gets played at parties all around the North East, pet.
Ian Wright – Do The Right Thing (1993)
Chart Position: 43
Stepping away from the cheese that was recorded by some of the previous players mentioned, ‘Do The Right Thing’ is a dance tune tailor-made for the early 90s’. The track was written by avid Arsenal fan and one half of the Pet Shop Boys, Chris Lowe. This was the only song from this list that I’d never heard before, but it is by far the best. As a huge fan of nineties dance music myself, it’s right up my street. It wouldn’t be out of place on a compilation album from that era with the likes of Ce-Ce Peniston, Robin S and Inner City. Indeed Ian Wright actually looks at home in the music video, as he’s always been very comfortable being in the limelight. The part of the song/video I don’t understand however, is towards the end where he’s sat down in front of a bunch of children, reading a poem about ‘keeping the peace’. But I have been replaying the video over and over on YouTube today, more out of shock at how decent the track is than anything else. The poor chart position of 43 must have been the main reason Wright was not able to release anymore tunes, which is a shame as he does more than a passable job on this song.
Andy Cole – Outstanding (1999)
Chart Position: 68
In 1999, Andy Cole was involved in a historic treble-winning season for Manchester United. In September of that year the striker decided to release his own song in charts, ironically called ‘Outstanding’. Now if you’ve ever heard Cole being interviewed, you would know that he has the personality of a wet mop, which is not the ideal start for a potential pop star. This shows throughout the song where the Man Utd star raps for three choruses; let me tell you, he’s no John Barnes. It is quite simply one of the worst songs I think I’ve ever heard. The video is also a cringe-fest, with Cole rapping from the passenger seat of a car (why isn’t he driving?), and then playing table football in a nightclub! The writers were clearly stuck for lyrics too, as twice he says ”Can I kick it?, Yes you can.” Very original. I would love to know what his manager Sir Alex Ferguson had to say about this. Haha! I’ll leave you with an important message from Andy Cole for the kids of today – ”I got my kicks from hitting the net, not from drugs, you bet, we’re outstanding.” Word.
Although a couple of these songs are pleasant on the ear, I think they stand as proof to why not many footballers have tried their hand at a music career. What we do need however, is the return of the FA Cup final songs. There’s something much more endearing about a bunch of blokes who aren’t taking themselves too seriously, singing with their teammates for a big occasion, rather than an individual trying to pretend they look the part simply to line their own pockets. The last cup final song released was actually way back in the year 2000, when Chelsea’s ‘Blue Tomorrow’ reached number 22 in the charts. In fact the last song brought out by a club at all was Leeds United’s ‘Marching On Together’ in 2010 for their promotion back to the Championship, incredibly making the top ten! To sum up, I would say team songs certainly do have a place in the UK music charts, especially with the success of so many England anthems over the years. As for solo efforts? Stick to the football, lads.