The England team has been in the wilderness and the song always runs in parallel with the team. You can’t sing about it coming home when it’s lost. The difference between “Three Lions” and all other songs before it, including “World In Motion,” is it was the first song properly to be about football and actually to describe the experience of being an England fan.
We know rationally that we tend to disappoint but somehow we keep on hoping that things might be different this time. And that element of the song, of defiance, of hope in the face of history, picks up energy if history suddenly looks like it might turn round. Even though the song comes from a place of vulnerability, its central refrain can be chanted at the right moment – now, for example – when fans want to throw caution to the wind.
According to David Baddiel in 2018, when the song experienced a resurgence: