This piece, originally published during the World Cup earlier this year, charts how Gala’s Freed From Desire, a 90s dance hit about Buddhist philosophy, became the official goal music for the England team, via Irish football and the lower leagues.
Lashed home by Harry Kane, dinked by Bukayo Saka or headed by Jude Bellingham, each England goal at this World Cup has had one thing in common.
All have been celebrated to the sound of 90s dance hit Freed From Desire, the track that the Three Lions nominated to be played every time they rippled the net in Qatar.
So how did a 25-year-old song about Buddhist values written and performed by an Italian become the choice of Gareth Southgate’s team for this year’s tournament?
There is no inherent link between football and the singer-songwriter, Milan-born Gala Rizzatto, who fell into music and the New York clubbing scene after moving there to study.
And the lyrics are not about the beautiful game but a rejection of consumerism and greed. “I wanted to save the world with the Buddhist conception of not wanting more,” Gala has said.
It proved internationally popular, reaching No1 in France and Belgium and No2 in the UK Singles Chart in summer 1997, although it was not immediately embraced by sport.
That only happened in earnest when it received a new lease of life from Wigan Athletic supporters – and specifically one Sean Kennedy – almost two decades later.
Kennedy uploaded a video to YouTube of himself singing “Will Grigg’s On Fire”, a Wigan fans’ tribute to the striker that borrowed the tune from Gala’s Freed From Desire.
It went viral, was adopted by Northern Ireland supporters at that summer’s Euro 2016 and became a bona fide football anthem, tweaked by fans of countless teams for their own players.
Wigan were so pleased that they gave Kennedy a free season ticket, although it transpired that he was not in fact the first to have taken the dancefloor favourite to the terraces.
Newcastle United supporters were quick to point out that they had been singing “Mitro’s On Fire” about Aleksandar Mitrovic for months, and there was footage of them belting it out to prove it.
Bristol City fans were also annoyed at Wigan getting the credit when they had been singing “Freeman’s On Fire”, about Luke Freeman, years earlier.
But even they weren’t the originators of that version, which had been in circulation among the Stevenage faithful as early as 2012, two years before Freeman moved to Bristol.
And the very earliest known use of the song as a football chant came in April 2011 – fully five years before Will Grigg became unexpectedly famous – when fans of Dublin club Bohemians changed the opening verse “My love has got no money/He’s got his strong beliefs” to the drug-tinged “The Bohs have got no money/We’ve got a bag of Es”.
Still, it was 2016 when Freed From Desire truly entered the wider football canon and gained the sort of big-match ubiquity previously reserved for the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.
It has been used by boxer Tyson Fury and Belgium’s national football team, among many, many others, and England aren’t the only side to have picked it at this World Cup, with Switzerland and Poland also nominating the track as their goal music.
Its enduring appeal lies in its repetition and simplicity, according to academics. Specifically, the stabbing synth sound that opens the track and the spoken quality of the vocals, musicologist Chris Milton wrote last month in the i.
And Freed From Desire’s second wind has also given Gala’s career a concomitant bump. Since 2015 the track has gone double platinum, meaning it has sold 2m units, while she has re-recorded the song and played live at matches.
England fans in Qatar for Saturday’s quarter-final with France, too, will hope they have not heard the last of it.