Music

Jukebox hero

Pascal Claude has been collecting football singles for over 20 years and has amassed a breathtaking treasure trove of musical delight. We asked him if lifting the cup with the big ears was a prelude to success in the studio – the answer was emphatically ‘no’

Pascal Claude playing under the lights

The football record has more to offer than just music.” This assertion comes from Pascal Claude in the foreword to his book Football Disco! The Unbelievable World of Football Record Covers. As a man with a staggering collection of such vinyls, he should know. Never mind the book, just a quick glance at the homepage of his website, 45football.com, offers a flavour of a period now vanished, when it seemed no successful season was complete without the release of a record.

You’d do well to settle for a simple glance, mind. The kaleidoscope of sleeves is a glorious feast for the eyes, a nostalgia-rich reminder of clubs’ great eras. It includes songs by sides who reached and won European Cup finals, plus individual efforts by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Kevin Keegan. Click on any of the 1,000-plus record covers and you can listen to the song too. You could enjoy Basile Boli and Chris Waddle’s We’ve Got a Feeling, from 1991, the year they appeared together in a European Cup final with Olympique de Marseille. There are also hundreds of other cup final and World Cup songs, the majority from the 1970s and 1980s. “These records tell their own story of football,” says Claude. “The songs and the sleeves are sometimes beautiful, pure art, but most of them are documents of heartwarming amateurism. That’s what I love.”

“German players are in the royal family of football singles. the dutch, belgians italians and french too”


And just how many has he collected? “Around 1,300 maybe. I’ve never counted. But there are close to 1,200 on my website and some more aren’t digitalised yet, so that’s about the number.” For the record, evidence gleaned from Claude’s website suggests that the years when footballers were most commonly seen in recording studios were, in ascending order, 1974 (55), 1982 (56) and 1986 (58 songs). Meanwhile, the countries with the greatest appetite for the football ditty have been Germany (167), England (181) and Italy (194 songs).

In ordinary times, Claude watches his football at FC Winterthur, the second-tier Swiss side based close to Zürich, his home city. His football-viewing is evidently as snobbery-free as his music, given that “apart from that, I love FC Kreuzlingen from the fifth league”. His record collection, spanning songs from 1958 to 2020, is strictly Champions League standard though. “In the 1990s I found out that there was a real genre of football songs on 7” vinyl. I started to look for them at flea markets and in record stores. Friends brought home singles from flea markets in Rome, Buenos Aires, Belgrade. And the more I got, the more interesting I found it.”

Interesting is an understatement; we’re hooked and eager to know more. Let’s drop the needle.

What elements do you need for a classic football song – and cover?

The classic football song is a march or a traditional, and often the squad sings the chorus. The 1970s were the decade of that kind of football music. The classic sleeve contains a team photo, the name of the song and the logo of the record label. It’s simple and very functional sleeve art; you instantly see what you get. The 1960s and 1970s were the golden age, not only for the number of releases but also for their quality, especially the sleeves. There were still plenty of singles in the 1980s but they suffer from the increasing influence of personal computers and experiments in digital graphic design.

Do European Cup finals tend to be a good source of inspiration?

They used to be, yes, particularly for clubs like Ajax, St-Etienne or Benfica that had very successful periods in the 1960s or 1970s, when hundreds of football singles were released in western Europe. Also for smaller clubs like Bastia, whose participation in the 1978 UEFA Cup final inspired a whole region. Sometimes just qualifying for the European Cup, UEFA Cup or Cup Winners’ Cup competition was worthy of a single. Especially if they were in it for the first time, or the first time after many years of hurt.

There is a history of FA Cup final songs in England. Did teams across Europe embrace the European Cup final in the same way?

Not generally, no. The main difference is that the records for European Cup finals mostly weren’t official club songs but a supporter’s homage to their beloved club, and often not released before but after the final to celebrate the title, such as Benfica in 1962 or Inter in 1965. Ajax’s three titles in the early 1970s were accompanied by around 20 singles.

Music
On the mic: Pascal’s dream team

This cracking XI, which plays in a daredevil 1-5-4 formation, features players who both recorded singles and triumphed in at least one from the UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and European Cup

Goalkeeper

Ray Clemence (Liverpool)
Released a cover of 1920s tune Side by Side with fellow England shot-stopper Peter Shilton in 1980.

Defender

Basile Boli (Marseille)
Duetted with Chris Waddle on We’ve Got a Feeling in 1991. Worth finding the video on YouTube to see Boli’s shirt.

Midfielders

Gerrie and Arnold Mühren (Ajax)
The singing brothers released marching tune Ajax is the King of the Pitch in 1973. Features an accordion, which never hurts.

Johan Cruyff (Ajax)
Oei, Oei, Oei, Cruyff’s only single, was put out by Polydor in 1969. Oddly, it’s about watching a cousin lose a boxing match.

Jimmy Hartwig (Hamburg)
Missed both of Hamburg’s finals in the early 1980s but could take solace from his hit, Mama Calypso, at the start of the decade.

Diego Maradona (Napoli)
A talented singer, to be fair – check out his 1986 ballad Querida Amiga, performed with Argentine duo Pimpinela.

Forwards

Kevin Keegan (Liverpool, Hamburg)
He was Head over Heels in Love from stadium to studio in 1979. Got to number 20 in the UK charts but peaked at 10 in Germany.

Paolo Rossi (Juventus)
Made productive use of his time by taking to the mic to release Domenica Alle Tre (Sunday at Three) while serving a ban in 1980.

Ruud Gullit (Feyenoord)
Released Not the Dancing Kind in 1984. Also worked with the band Revelation Time, who wrote Captain Dread in his honour.

Gerd Müller (Bayern München)  
The German forward recorded four singles, which resulted in him becoming feared as much for his voice as his striking ability.

The football record has more to offer than just music.” This assertion comes from Pascal Claude in the foreword to his book Football Disco! The Unbelievable World of Football Record Covers. As a man with a staggering collection of such vinyls, he should know. Never mind the book, just a quick glance at the homepage of his website, 45football.com, offers a flavour of a period now vanished, when it seemed no successful season was complete without the release of a record.

You’d do well to settle for a simple glance, mind. The kaleidoscope of sleeves is a glorious feast for the eyes, a nostalgia-rich reminder of clubs’ great eras. It includes songs by sides who reached and won European Cup finals, plus individual efforts by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Kevin Keegan. Click on any of the 1,000-plus record covers and you can listen to the song too. You could enjoy Basile Boli and Chris Waddle’s We’ve Got a Feeling, from 1991, the year they appeared together in a European Cup final with Olympique de Marseille. There are also hundreds of other cup final and World Cup songs, the majority from the 1970s and 1980s. “These records tell their own story of football,” says Claude. “The songs and the sleeves are sometimes beautiful, pure art, but most of them are documents of heartwarming amateurism. That’s what I love.”

“German players are in the royal family of football singles. the dutch, belgians italians and french too”


And just how many has he collected? “Around 1,300 maybe. I’ve never counted. But there are close to 1,200 on my website and some more aren’t digitalised yet, so that’s about the number.” For the record, evidence gleaned from Claude’s website suggests that the years when footballers were most commonly seen in recording studios were, in ascending order, 1974 (55), 1982 (56) and 1986 (58 songs). Meanwhile, the countries with the greatest appetite for the football ditty have been Germany (167), England (181) and Italy (194 songs).

In ordinary times, Claude watches his football at FC Winterthur, the second-tier Swiss side based close to Zürich, his home city. His football-viewing is evidently as snobbery-free as his music, given that “apart from that, I love FC Kreuzlingen from the fifth league”. His record collection, spanning songs from 1958 to 2020, is strictly Champions League standard though. “In the 1990s I found out that there was a real genre of football songs on 7” vinyl. I started to look for them at flea markets and in record stores. Friends brought home singles from flea markets in Rome, Buenos Aires, Belgrade. And the more I got, the more interesting I found it.”

Interesting is an understatement; we’re hooked and eager to know more. Let’s drop the needle.

What elements do you need for a classic football song – and cover?

The classic football song is a march or a traditional, and often the squad sings the chorus. The 1970s were the decade of that kind of football music. The classic sleeve contains a team photo, the name of the song and the logo of the record label. It’s simple and very functional sleeve art; you instantly see what you get. The 1960s and 1970s were the golden age, not only for the number of releases but also for their quality, especially the sleeves. There were still plenty of singles in the 1980s but they suffer from the increasing influence of personal computers and experiments in digital graphic design.

Do European Cup finals tend to be a good source of inspiration?

They used to be, yes, particularly for clubs like Ajax, St-Etienne or Benfica that had very successful periods in the 1960s or 1970s, when hundreds of football singles were released in western Europe. Also for smaller clubs like Bastia, whose participation in the 1978 UEFA Cup final inspired a whole region. Sometimes just qualifying for the European Cup, UEFA Cup or Cup Winners’ Cup competition was worthy of a single. Especially if they were in it for the first time, or the first time after many years of hurt.

There is a history of FA Cup final songs in England. Did teams across Europe embrace the European Cup final in the same way?

Not generally, no. The main difference is that the records for European Cup finals mostly weren’t official club songs but a supporter’s homage to their beloved club, and often not released before but after the final to celebrate the title, such as Benfica in 1962 or Inter in 1965. Ajax’s three titles in the early 1970s were accompanied by around 20 singles.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Does the international aspect of a World Cup or European Cup provide added flavour?

I don’t think there were a lot of very popular World Cup songs apart from World in Motion by Englandneworder, as they called themselves. The usual World Cup song for a national team in the times of football singles, be it in Scotland, Germany or Yugoslavia, wasn’t very attractive to a disco or pop-oriented public. All the songs for and by the German national team, for example, were rather terrible. Today they epitomise what a really bad football song is all about: boring music with stupid lyrics. Of course there are plenty of World Cup songs, like Scotland’s Easy Easy from 1974, that are legendary and adored today. But that’s mainly because time heals wounds! Regarding European Cup final songs, there’s no widely popular one that comes to mind.

On Europe’s biggest stage, have you noticed any correlation between success on the pitch and good music?

In the case of Ajax in the 1970s there’s a negative correlation: total football on the pitch, total crap on the record. On the other hand, there was a great song about St-Etienne’s 5-0 win away to Hamburger SV in the UEFA Cup in 1980. The song tells the story of the game.

Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Jimmy Hartwig… German players seemed to spend more time in the studio than on the pitch in the 1970s and early 1980s. Are Germans the kings of the football single?

They are in the royal family of football singles, yes. But the Dutch, Belgians, Italians and French belong there too. There was a beautiful tradition of small clubs releasing their club song on vinyl in these countries – teams from places you’ve never heard of. Dutch player Simon Tahamata even recorded a song for the 1980 European Championship called We’re Going to Rome [We Gaan Naar Rome] but got injured, wasn’t selected in the squad and had to stay at home.

What’s the most recent European Cup final single in your collection and what’s it like?

It’s a grotesque thrash version of Dortmund’s club song, Schwarz-Gelb Ist Borussia, released after the 1997 triumph when Borussia beat Juve in Munich. The artist is called Hein O, a play on Germany’s very famous popular singer Heino.

Is the era of the football single over?

In spite of the vinyl revival it is definitely over, yes. There are still football singles being released today, especially by German independent or punk bands, but these are the beautiful exceptions. Football singles are a thing of the past. A wonderful thing of the past.

Music
On the mic: Pascal’s dream team

This cracking XI, which plays in a daredevil 1-5-4 formation, features players who both recorded singles and triumphed in at least one from the UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and European Cup

Goalkeeper

Ray Clemence (Liverpool)
Released a cover of 1920s tune Side by Side with fellow England shot-stopper Peter Shilton in 1980.

Defender

Basile Boli (Marseille)
Duetted with Chris Waddle on We’ve Got a Feeling in 1991. Worth finding the video on YouTube to see Boli’s shirt.

Midfielders

Gerrie and Arnold Mühren (Ajax)
The singing brothers released marching tune Ajax is the King of the Pitch in 1973. Features an accordion, which never hurts.

Johan Cruyff (Ajax)
Oei, Oei, Oei, Cruyff’s only single, was put out by Polydor in 1969. Oddly, it’s about watching a cousin lose a boxing match.

Jimmy Hartwig (Hamburg)
Missed both of Hamburg’s finals in the early 1980s but could take solace from his hit, Mama Calypso, at the start of the decade.

Diego Maradona (Napoli)
A talented singer, to be fair – check out his 1986 ballad Querida Amiga, performed with Argentine duo Pimpinela.

Forwards

Kevin Keegan (Liverpool, Hamburg)
He was Head over Heels in Love from stadium to studio in 1979. Got to number 20 in the UK charts but peaked at 10 in Germany.

Paolo Rossi (Juventus)
Made productive use of his time by taking to the mic to release Domenica Alle Tre (Sunday at Three) while serving a ban in 1980.

Ruud Gullit (Feyenoord)
Released Not the Dancing Kind in 1984. Also worked with the band Revelation Time, who wrote Captain Dread in his honour.

Gerd Müller (Bayern München)  
The German forward recorded four singles, which resulted in him becoming feared as much for his voice as his striking ability.

The football record has more to offer than just music.” This assertion comes from Pascal Claude in the foreword to his book Football Disco! The Unbelievable World of Football Record Covers. As a man with a staggering collection of such vinyls, he should know. Never mind the book, just a quick glance at the homepage of his website, 45football.com, offers a flavour of a period now vanished, when it seemed no successful season was complete without the release of a record.

You’d do well to settle for a simple glance, mind. The kaleidoscope of sleeves is a glorious feast for the eyes, a nostalgia-rich reminder of clubs’ great eras. It includes songs by sides who reached and won European Cup finals, plus individual efforts by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Kevin Keegan. Click on any of the 1,000-plus record covers and you can listen to the song too. You could enjoy Basile Boli and Chris Waddle’s We’ve Got a Feeling, from 1991, the year they appeared together in a European Cup final with Olympique de Marseille. There are also hundreds of other cup final and World Cup songs, the majority from the 1970s and 1980s. “These records tell their own story of football,” says Claude. “The songs and the sleeves are sometimes beautiful, pure art, but most of them are documents of heartwarming amateurism. That’s what I love.”

“German players are in the royal family of football singles. the dutch, belgians italians and french too”


And just how many has he collected? “Around 1,300 maybe. I’ve never counted. But there are close to 1,200 on my website and some more aren’t digitalised yet, so that’s about the number.” For the record, evidence gleaned from Claude’s website suggests that the years when footballers were most commonly seen in recording studios were, in ascending order, 1974 (55), 1982 (56) and 1986 (58 songs). Meanwhile, the countries with the greatest appetite for the football ditty have been Germany (167), England (181) and Italy (194 songs).

In ordinary times, Claude watches his football at FC Winterthur, the second-tier Swiss side based close to Zürich, his home city. His football-viewing is evidently as snobbery-free as his music, given that “apart from that, I love FC Kreuzlingen from the fifth league”. His record collection, spanning songs from 1958 to 2020, is strictly Champions League standard though. “In the 1990s I found out that there was a real genre of football songs on 7” vinyl. I started to look for them at flea markets and in record stores. Friends brought home singles from flea markets in Rome, Buenos Aires, Belgrade. And the more I got, the more interesting I found it.”

Interesting is an understatement; we’re hooked and eager to know more. Let’s drop the needle.

What elements do you need for a classic football song – and cover?

The classic football song is a march or a traditional, and often the squad sings the chorus. The 1970s were the decade of that kind of football music. The classic sleeve contains a team photo, the name of the song and the logo of the record label. It’s simple and very functional sleeve art; you instantly see what you get. The 1960s and 1970s were the golden age, not only for the number of releases but also for their quality, especially the sleeves. There were still plenty of singles in the 1980s but they suffer from the increasing influence of personal computers and experiments in digital graphic design.

Do European Cup finals tend to be a good source of inspiration?

They used to be, yes, particularly for clubs like Ajax, St-Etienne or Benfica that had very successful periods in the 1960s or 1970s, when hundreds of football singles were released in western Europe. Also for smaller clubs like Bastia, whose participation in the 1978 UEFA Cup final inspired a whole region. Sometimes just qualifying for the European Cup, UEFA Cup or Cup Winners’ Cup competition was worthy of a single. Especially if they were in it for the first time, or the first time after many years of hurt.

There is a history of FA Cup final songs in England. Did teams across Europe embrace the European Cup final in the same way?

Not generally, no. The main difference is that the records for European Cup finals mostly weren’t official club songs but a supporter’s homage to their beloved club, and often not released before but after the final to celebrate the title, such as Benfica in 1962 or Inter in 1965. Ajax’s three titles in the early 1970s were accompanied by around 20 singles.

Music
Jukebox hero

This cracking XI, which plays in a daredevil 1-5-4 formation, features players who both recorded singles and triumphed in at least one from the UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and European Cup

Goalkeeper

Ray Clemence (Liverpool)
Released a cover of 1920s tune Side by Side with fellow England shot-stopper Peter Shilton in 1980.

Defender

Basile Boli (Marseille)
Duetted with Chris Waddle on We’ve Got a Feeling in 1991. Worth finding the video on YouTube to see Boli’s shirt.

Midfielders

Gerrie and Arnold Mühren (Ajax)
The singing brothers released marching tune Ajax is the King of the Pitch in 1973. Features an accordion, which never hurts.

Johan Cruyff (Ajax)
Oei, Oei, Oei, Cruyff’s only single, was put out by Polydor in 1969. Oddly, it’s about watching a cousin lose a boxing match.

Jimmy Hartwig (Hamburg)
Missed both of Hamburg’s finals in the early 1980s but could take solace from his hit, Mama Calypso, at the start of the decade.

Diego Maradona (Napoli)
A talented singer, to be fair – check out his 1986 ballad Querida Amiga, performed with Argentine duo Pimpinela.

Forwards

Kevin Keegan (Liverpool, Hamburg)
He was Head over Heels in Love from stadium to studio in 1979. Got to number 20 in the UK charts but peaked at 10 in Germany.

Paolo Rossi (Juventus)
Made productive use of his time by taking to the mic to release Domenica Alle Tre (Sunday at Three) while serving a ban in 1980.

Ruud Gullit (Feyenoord)
Released Not the Dancing Kind in 1984. Also worked with the band Revelation Time, who wrote Captain Dread in his honour.

Gerd Müller (Bayern München)  
The German forward recorded four singles, which resulted in him becoming feared as much for his voice as his striking ability.

Music

Jukebox hero

Pascal Claude has been collecting football singles for over 20 years and has amassed a breathtaking treasure trove of musical delight. We asked him if lifting the cup with the big ears was a prelude to success in the studio – the answer was emphatically ‘no’

Pascal Claude playing under the lights

The football record has more to offer than just music.” This assertion comes from Pascal Claude in the foreword to his book Football Disco! The Unbelievable World of Football Record Covers. As a man with a staggering collection of such vinyls, he should know. Never mind the book, just a quick glance at the homepage of his website, 45football.com, offers a flavour of a period now vanished, when it seemed no successful season was complete without the release of a record.

You’d do well to settle for a simple glance, mind. The kaleidoscope of sleeves is a glorious feast for the eyes, a nostalgia-rich reminder of clubs’ great eras. It includes songs by sides who reached and won European Cup finals, plus individual efforts by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Kevin Keegan. Click on any of the 1,000-plus record covers and you can listen to the song too. You could enjoy Basile Boli and Chris Waddle’s We’ve Got a Feeling, from 1991, the year they appeared together in a European Cup final with Olympique de Marseille. There are also hundreds of other cup final and World Cup songs, the majority from the 1970s and 1980s. “These records tell their own story of football,” says Claude. “The songs and the sleeves are sometimes beautiful, pure art, but most of them are documents of heartwarming amateurism. That’s what I love.”

“German players are in the royal family of football singles. the dutch, belgians italians and french too”


And just how many has he collected? “Around 1,300 maybe. I’ve never counted. But there are close to 1,200 on my website and some more aren’t digitalised yet, so that’s about the number.” For the record, evidence gleaned from Claude’s website suggests that the years when footballers were most commonly seen in recording studios were, in ascending order, 1974 (55), 1982 (56) and 1986 (58 songs). Meanwhile, the countries with the greatest appetite for the football ditty have been Germany (167), England (181) and Italy (194 songs).

In ordinary times, Claude watches his football at FC Winterthur, the second-tier Swiss side based close to Zürich, his home city. His football-viewing is evidently as snobbery-free as his music, given that “apart from that, I love FC Kreuzlingen from the fifth league”. His record collection, spanning songs from 1958 to 2020, is strictly Champions League standard though. “In the 1990s I found out that there was a real genre of football songs on 7” vinyl. I started to look for them at flea markets and in record stores. Friends brought home singles from flea markets in Rome, Buenos Aires, Belgrade. And the more I got, the more interesting I found it.”

Interesting is an understatement; we’re hooked and eager to know more. Let’s drop the needle.

What elements do you need for a classic football song – and cover?

The classic football song is a march or a traditional, and often the squad sings the chorus. The 1970s were the decade of that kind of football music. The classic sleeve contains a team photo, the name of the song and the logo of the record label. It’s simple and very functional sleeve art; you instantly see what you get. The 1960s and 1970s were the golden age, not only for the number of releases but also for their quality, especially the sleeves. There were still plenty of singles in the 1980s but they suffer from the increasing influence of personal computers and experiments in digital graphic design.

Do European Cup finals tend to be a good source of inspiration?

They used to be, yes, particularly for clubs like Ajax, St-Etienne or Benfica that had very successful periods in the 1960s or 1970s, when hundreds of football singles were released in western Europe. Also for smaller clubs like Bastia, whose participation in the 1978 UEFA Cup final inspired a whole region. Sometimes just qualifying for the European Cup, UEFA Cup or Cup Winners’ Cup competition was worthy of a single. Especially if they were in it for the first time, or the first time after many years of hurt.

There is a history of FA Cup final songs in England. Did teams across Europe embrace the European Cup final in the same way?

Not generally, no. The main difference is that the records for European Cup finals mostly weren’t official club songs but a supporter’s homage to their beloved club, and often not released before but after the final to celebrate the title, such as Benfica in 1962 or Inter in 1965. Ajax’s three titles in the early 1970s were accompanied by around 20 singles.

Music
Penalty Pedigree

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The football record has more to offer than just music.” This assertion comes from Pascal Claude in the foreword to his book Football Disco! The Unbelievable World of Football Record Covers. As a man with a staggering collection of such vinyls, he should know. Never mind the book, just a quick glance at the homepage of his website, 45football.com, offers a flavour of a period now vanished, when it seemed no successful season was complete without the release of a record.

You’d do well to settle for a simple glance, mind. The kaleidoscope of sleeves is a glorious feast for the eyes, a nostalgia-rich reminder of clubs’ great eras. It includes songs by sides who reached and won European Cup finals, plus individual efforts by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Kevin Keegan. Click on any of the 1,000-plus record covers and you can listen to the song too. You could enjoy Basile Boli and Chris Waddle’s We’ve Got a Feeling, from 1991, the year they appeared together in a European Cup final with Olympique de Marseille. There are also hundreds of other cup final and World Cup songs, the majority from the 1970s and 1980s. “These records tell their own story of football,” says Claude. “The songs and the sleeves are sometimes beautiful, pure art, but most of them are documents of heartwarming amateurism. That’s what I love.”

“German players are in the royal family of football singles. the dutch, belgians italians and french too”


And just how many has he collected? “Around 1,300 maybe. I’ve never counted. But there are close to 1,200 on my website and some more aren’t digitalised yet, so that’s about the number.” For the record, evidence gleaned from Claude’s website suggests that the years when footballers were most commonly seen in recording studios were, in ascending order, 1974 (55), 1982 (56) and 1986 (58 songs). Meanwhile, the countries with the greatest appetite for the football ditty have been Germany (167), England (181) and Italy (194 songs).

In ordinary times, Claude watches his football at FC Winterthur, the second-tier Swiss side based close to Zürich, his home city. His football-viewing is evidently as snobbery-free as his music, given that “apart from that, I love FC Kreuzlingen from the fifth league”. His record collection, spanning songs from 1958 to 2020, is strictly Champions League standard though. “In the 1990s I found out that there was a real genre of football songs on 7” vinyl. I started to look for them at flea markets and in record stores. Friends brought home singles from flea markets in Rome, Buenos Aires, Belgrade. And the more I got, the more interesting I found it.”

Interesting is an understatement; we’re hooked and eager to know more. Let’s drop the needle.

What elements do you need for a classic football song – and cover?

The classic football song is a march or a traditional, and often the squad sings the chorus. The 1970s were the decade of that kind of football music. The classic sleeve contains a team photo, the name of the song and the logo of the record label. It’s simple and very functional sleeve art; you instantly see what you get. The 1960s and 1970s were the golden age, not only for the number of releases but also for their quality, especially the sleeves. There were still plenty of singles in the 1980s but they suffer from the increasing influence of personal computers and experiments in digital graphic design.

Do European Cup finals tend to be a good source of inspiration?

They used to be, yes, particularly for clubs like Ajax, St-Etienne or Benfica that had very successful periods in the 1960s or 1970s, when hundreds of football singles were released in western Europe. Also for smaller clubs like Bastia, whose participation in the 1978 UEFA Cup final inspired a whole region. Sometimes just qualifying for the European Cup, UEFA Cup or Cup Winners’ Cup competition was worthy of a single. Especially if they were in it for the first time, or the first time after many years of hurt.

There is a history of FA Cup final songs in England. Did teams across Europe embrace the European Cup final in the same way?

Not generally, no. The main difference is that the records for European Cup finals mostly weren’t official club songs but a supporter’s homage to their beloved club, and often not released before but after the final to celebrate the title, such as Benfica in 1962 or Inter in 1965. Ajax’s three titles in the early 1970s were accompanied by around 20 singles.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Does the international aspect of a World Cup or European Cup provide added flavour?

I don’t think there were a lot of very popular World Cup songs apart from World in Motion by Englandneworder, as they called themselves. The usual World Cup song for a national team in the times of football singles, be it in Scotland, Germany or Yugoslavia, wasn’t very attractive to a disco or pop-oriented public. All the songs for and by the German national team, for example, were rather terrible. Today they epitomise what a really bad football song is all about: boring music with stupid lyrics. Of course there are plenty of World Cup songs, like Scotland’s Easy Easy from 1974, that are legendary and adored today. But that’s mainly because time heals wounds! Regarding European Cup final songs, there’s no widely popular one that comes to mind.

On Europe’s biggest stage, have you noticed any correlation between success on the pitch and good music?

In the case of Ajax in the 1970s there’s a negative correlation: total football on the pitch, total crap on the record. On the other hand, there was a great song about St-Etienne’s 5-0 win away to Hamburger SV in the UEFA Cup in 1980. The song tells the story of the game.

Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Jimmy Hartwig… German players seemed to spend more time in the studio than on the pitch in the 1970s and early 1980s. Are Germans the kings of the football single?

They are in the royal family of football singles, yes. But the Dutch, Belgians, Italians and French belong there too. There was a beautiful tradition of small clubs releasing their club song on vinyl in these countries – teams from places you’ve never heard of. Dutch player Simon Tahamata even recorded a song for the 1980 European Championship called We’re Going to Rome [We Gaan Naar Rome] but got injured, wasn’t selected in the squad and had to stay at home.

What’s the most recent European Cup final single in your collection and what’s it like?

It’s a grotesque thrash version of Dortmund’s club song, Schwarz-Gelb Ist Borussia, released after the 1997 triumph when Borussia beat Juve in Munich. The artist is called Hein O, a play on Germany’s very famous popular singer Heino.

Is the era of the football single over?

In spite of the vinyl revival it is definitely over, yes. There are still football singles being released today, especially by German independent or punk bands, but these are the beautiful exceptions. Football singles are a thing of the past. A wonderful thing of the past.

Music
On the mic: Pascal’s dream team

This cracking XI, which plays in a daredevil 1-5-4 formation, features players who both recorded singles and triumphed in at least one from the UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and European Cup

Goalkeeper

Ray Clemence (Liverpool)
Released a cover of 1920s tune Side by Side with fellow England shot-stopper Peter Shilton in 1980.

Defender

Basile Boli (Marseille)
Duetted with Chris Waddle on We’ve Got a Feeling in 1991. Worth finding the video on YouTube to see Boli’s shirt.

Midfielders

Gerrie and Arnold Mühren (Ajax)
The singing brothers released marching tune Ajax is the King of the Pitch in 1973. Features an accordion, which never hurts.

Johan Cruyff (Ajax)
Oei, Oei, Oei, Cruyff’s only single, was put out by Polydor in 1969. Oddly, it’s about watching a cousin lose a boxing match.

Jimmy Hartwig (Hamburg)
Missed both of Hamburg’s finals in the early 1980s but could take solace from his hit, Mama Calypso, at the start of the decade.

Diego Maradona (Napoli)
A talented singer, to be fair – check out his 1986 ballad Querida Amiga, performed with Argentine duo Pimpinela.

Forwards

Kevin Keegan (Liverpool, Hamburg)
He was Head over Heels in Love from stadium to studio in 1979. Got to number 20 in the UK charts but peaked at 10 in Germany.

Paolo Rossi (Juventus)
Made productive use of his time by taking to the mic to release Domenica Alle Tre (Sunday at Three) while serving a ban in 1980.

Ruud Gullit (Feyenoord)
Released Not the Dancing Kind in 1984. Also worked with the band Revelation Time, who wrote Captain Dread in his honour.

Gerd Müller (Bayern München)  
The German forward recorded four singles, which resulted in him becoming feared as much for his voice as his striking ability.

The football record has more to offer than just music.” This assertion comes from Pascal Claude in the foreword to his book Football Disco! The Unbelievable World of Football Record Covers. As a man with a staggering collection of such vinyls, he should know. Never mind the book, just a quick glance at the homepage of his website, 45football.com, offers a flavour of a period now vanished, when it seemed no successful season was complete without the release of a record.

You’d do well to settle for a simple glance, mind. The kaleidoscope of sleeves is a glorious feast for the eyes, a nostalgia-rich reminder of clubs’ great eras. It includes songs by sides who reached and won European Cup finals, plus individual efforts by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Kevin Keegan. Click on any of the 1,000-plus record covers and you can listen to the song too. You could enjoy Basile Boli and Chris Waddle’s We’ve Got a Feeling, from 1991, the year they appeared together in a European Cup final with Olympique de Marseille. There are also hundreds of other cup final and World Cup songs, the majority from the 1970s and 1980s. “These records tell their own story of football,” says Claude. “The songs and the sleeves are sometimes beautiful, pure art, but most of them are documents of heartwarming amateurism. That’s what I love.”

“German players are in the royal family of football singles. the dutch, belgians italians and french too”


And just how many has he collected? “Around 1,300 maybe. I’ve never counted. But there are close to 1,200 on my website and some more aren’t digitalised yet, so that’s about the number.” For the record, evidence gleaned from Claude’s website suggests that the years when footballers were most commonly seen in recording studios were, in ascending order, 1974 (55), 1982 (56) and 1986 (58 songs). Meanwhile, the countries with the greatest appetite for the football ditty have been Germany (167), England (181) and Italy (194 songs).

In ordinary times, Claude watches his football at FC Winterthur, the second-tier Swiss side based close to Zürich, his home city. His football-viewing is evidently as snobbery-free as his music, given that “apart from that, I love FC Kreuzlingen from the fifth league”. His record collection, spanning songs from 1958 to 2020, is strictly Champions League standard though. “In the 1990s I found out that there was a real genre of football songs on 7” vinyl. I started to look for them at flea markets and in record stores. Friends brought home singles from flea markets in Rome, Buenos Aires, Belgrade. And the more I got, the more interesting I found it.”

Interesting is an understatement; we’re hooked and eager to know more. Let’s drop the needle.

What elements do you need for a classic football song – and cover?

The classic football song is a march or a traditional, and often the squad sings the chorus. The 1970s were the decade of that kind of football music. The classic sleeve contains a team photo, the name of the song and the logo of the record label. It’s simple and very functional sleeve art; you instantly see what you get. The 1960s and 1970s were the golden age, not only for the number of releases but also for their quality, especially the sleeves. There were still plenty of singles in the 1980s but they suffer from the increasing influence of personal computers and experiments in digital graphic design.

Do European Cup finals tend to be a good source of inspiration?

They used to be, yes, particularly for clubs like Ajax, St-Etienne or Benfica that had very successful periods in the 1960s or 1970s, when hundreds of football singles were released in western Europe. Also for smaller clubs like Bastia, whose participation in the 1978 UEFA Cup final inspired a whole region. Sometimes just qualifying for the European Cup, UEFA Cup or Cup Winners’ Cup competition was worthy of a single. Especially if they were in it for the first time, or the first time after many years of hurt.

There is a history of FA Cup final songs in England. Did teams across Europe embrace the European Cup final in the same way?

Not generally, no. The main difference is that the records for European Cup finals mostly weren’t official club songs but a supporter’s homage to their beloved club, and often not released before but after the final to celebrate the title, such as Benfica in 1962 or Inter in 1965. Ajax’s three titles in the early 1970s were accompanied by around 20 singles.

Music
Penalty Pedigree

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