The Wembley DJ credited with making ‘Sweet Caroline’ the soundtrack to England’s run to the Euro 2020 final loves the sense of togetherness it has created after suffering caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tony Perry had seen the song being used in other sports and by other countries, and was heartened to see both England and Germany fans “going nuts” to it before the last-16 match kicked off on June 29.
The Neil Diamond track will definitely be part of his pre-match playlist for Sunday’s final against Italy as he builds the atmosphere in the three hours from doors opening up to kick-off, and it may be played again should England end 55 years of hurt.
“There have been a lot of nice messages from England fans, but also from fans of Germany and Denmark after the ‘Sweet Caroline’ moment, because they all got involved,” Perry told the PA news agency.
“That’s what I wanted to do – to create this sense of togetherness because we have all suffered the last 18 months. That track did it, it was amazing.”
The song had never previously been associated with the England team, and asked how it had come about, Perry said: “Before the tournament we’re provided the music but we’re also given a chance to suggest some songs that might work.
“So having seen it work really well in cricket, boxing, darts, and other teams and nations use the track, I thought it would be a good one to have, not just for England but to use for the right moment.
“So I had it in my record bag, and during the Germany game, as we were crescendoing into the kick-off, I played it and there’s a brilliant video which shows both the England and Germany fans going nuts.
“We were like, ‘Yes, this is what we wanted to achieve’.
“We will definitely play it before the game. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Italian fans at the tournament and I am sure they will participate in chanting to a bit of Neil Diamond as well, which is what we want to do.
“It’s a great song but it’s got a neutral vibe as well.”
While Euro 96 anthem ‘Three Lions’ by Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds will be Perry’s go-to should England become European champions, ‘Sweet Caroline’ will help him keep the party going.
“At full-time, you have to play the greatest song ever which is ‘Three Lions’, and the difficult challenge then is what you’re going to play to maintain that atmosphere – it’s the same dilemma I face in a club,” he said.
“I was going to play another song (after England beat Germany), but just instinctively my gut was like ‘what you saw before was brilliant, it’s something for everyone’. I played it and it’s stuck ever since.
“It’s become the charm for England in this tournament and if that’s the case, then let them have it, brilliant.”
Sunday promises to be a special day for Perry, who has surprised his dad – who he credits with inspiring him to become a DJ – with tickets for the match to mark his 60th birthday.
As a freelancer for tournament organisers UEFA, Perry’s job is not just to plan for an England party, and is prepared for an Italy win too.
“There’s a famous Italian singer called Raffaella Carra, she passed away this week,” he said.
“As a note to her we played one of her most famous songs when Italy won (the semi-final against Spain), and it went down an absolute treat.
“So yes, we have got to think on our feet and prepare for every eventuality. Italy have got a good record of winning so we have to prepare for that, but let’s see if we can play ‘Sweet Caroline’.”
Perry played Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ before the penalty shoot-out between Italy and Spain on Tuesday and he has a few ideas should there be another one on Sunday.
“‘Under Pressure’ is a good shout,” he said.
“Or I might play ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’.”