Tres Leones: Singing Three Lions in Latin

Antigone FC x cannibal

Well, needs must: with the Euro 2020 finals coming to their longed-for climax this very Sunday of July 2021 (sic), the Antigone team set about dusting down the most iconic football song of them all, Baddiel-and-Skinner-and-Broudie’s Three Lions. But to give it a 2021 spin, and to balance English hopes and dreams with those of the formidable Italian opposition, we reached for the shared language of mutual respect and understanding between the two teams: Latin. The res publica pediludi amatorum – the worldwide republic of football-lovers – truly knows no bounds.

So here it is, Tres Leones in the language it was always intended to be sung in:

Those lyrics in full:

Domum redit,
domum redit,
redit nunc
pediludium![1] (x IV)

homines fingunt quae fiant:
viderunt prius omnia.
hoc sciunt,
hoc aiunt…
quod Angli semper perdere amant,
dissipare parant,
sed scio quam ludant
quod reminiscor:

TRES LEONES togae,[2]
Iulio nitente.[3]
sex lustra[4] curae
numquam non sperabam.

tantis iocis, tantis rhonchis,
ludis Tantaleis[5]
defessa[6] per annos,
cerno MOOREM[7] pilam furantem,
LINECREM[8] aequantem,
CHARLTONEM[9] pulsantem,
STILEM[10] saltantem.

Iulio nitente.
sex lustra curae
numquam non sperabam.

sic praeteritum
veniat iterum…

domum redit


And in a literal translation:

It’s coming home
It’s coming home –
Coming home now
Is football! (x 4)

People imagine what’s going to happen:
They’ve seen it all before.
This they know,
This they say –
That the English love to throw it away,
Are ready to blow it away,
But I know how they play
’Cause I remember

THREE LIONS on the (full-body!) shirt,
While Jules (Rimet) was gleaming.
For thirty (6×5) years of hurt
I never wasn’t dreaming.

Although by so many jokes, by so many sneers
by all those tantalising games,
I’ve been worn down through the years,
I see (Bobby) Moore stealing the ball,
(Gary) Lineker equalising,
(Bobby) Charlton belting (it),
(Nobby) Stiles Dancing.

THREE LIONS on the (full-body!) shirt,
While Jules (Rimet) was gleaming.
For thirty (6×5) years of hurt
I never wasn’t dreaming…

So the past
may come round again…


It’s coming home


Anyway, please do check out Hayley’s music here. She is amazing!

Or, for more on how the history of football in Britain draws upon the world of the Greeks and Romans, dive in here.


1 For the complicated history of the Latin name for football, see here.
2 Yes, you’d expect tunicae – but those jerseys of the Sixties gave ample coverage of the body.
3 i.e. Iulius Rimetus, or “Jules Rimet” to close friends: Fifae Defensor, 1921–54; the man was temporarily immortalised in the World Cup trophy, which went missing for good in 1983.
4 A lustrum was a five-year period for the Romans, who marked the occasion with ritual libations: it is a national English tradition to do the same every four years with lashings of salty tears.
5 Tantalus, cursed always to be hungry and thirsty in the Underworld, was ever tantalised: when he reached for the branch of fruit above, the wind blew it just out of reach; when he reached to drink the waters of the stream in which he stood, they retreated from his fingertips. This is the earliest known allegory of supporting the English football team.
6 Hayley is singing, of course: for male singers, use defessus.
7 Moos, Mooris m. Made famous by the phrase o tempora, o Moorem!
8 Linecer, Linecrisp m. Sometimes spelt Lineker in the epigraphic and tuberofrictic record.
9 Charltō, Charltōnis m. Renowned for his fitness and celebrated in antiquity as Charlto Athleticus.
10 Stīlēs, Stīlis (and in Later, debased Latin Stīlĕs, Stīlitis) n. Lionised in the nineteen-book epic poem the Nobbiad.