‘Sweet Caroline’, a beloved Neil Diamond song written for his wife, has become something of a cultural staple in the sporting world since its release 50 years ago. The Sydney Swans play this classic banger at their home games, UFC middleweight Darren Till has it as his walkout song, but perhaps the most lucrative use of ‘Sweet Caroline’ can be credited to England’s national football team during the 2020 UEFA Euro tournament.
After England beat Germany 2-0 at Wembley in the quarter-final, the soft rock anthem practically became synonymous with England’s success on the pitch, as the players and all 60,000 fans belted out the song’s iconic chorus. This came about due to an executive decision made by Wembley DJ Tony Parry, who went with his instinct to play ‘Sweet Caroline’ instead of Fat Les’ 1998 World Cup anthem ‘Vindaloo.’
“I was going to play ‘Vindaloo’ but went with my gut. Even the German fans were belting it out in the end. It’s a song that all fans can enjoy. The match director said in my in-ear, ‘The world’s been closed for 18 months… let ’em have it.'”
The song could be felt from every stadium, pub, and club across the country, instantly overtaking ‘Three Lions (It’s Coming Home)‘ as the fans’ song of choice for the tournament.
“To hear them at the end… I mean you can’t beat a bit of ‘Sweet Caroline,’ can you?” said England coach Gareth Southgate.
“That’s a belter, really.”
According to music licensing expert Bridget Bloom of 401K Music, Neil Diamond stood to earn over $10 million dollars from ‘Sweet Caroline’ if England had won the Euro 2020. With revenue coming from bars streaming the song in celebration, and potential advertising campaigns, as well as the odd promotional deal… the song would have seen a “cultural resurgence” that netted the 80-year-old songbird a mountain of cash.
For reference, the 26 players from the winning Italian side reportedly pocketed around €500,000 (AU$790,000) in bonuses for winning the final. In a game he likely didn’t watch a single second of, Neil Diamond could have earned nearly 13 times that amount.
Suffice to say, no one wanted it to come home more than poor old Neil did. “Good times never seemed so good”, and in this case, they were just too good to be true.