The Football Association yesterday unveiled indie band Embrace as its choice to compose England's World Cup single, hoping the group's journey from obscurity to triumphant comeback can inspire the team to similar success.
Ending months of speculation tipping everyone from the Kaiser Chiefs to the Streets for the official soundtrack to England's efforts in Germany, the FA said Embrace had started work on the track, entitled World at Your Feet.
But the band made an unlikely comeback by returning to the top 10 in 2004 with Gravity, written by Coldplay's Chris Martin. Their subsequent album, Out of Nothing, confirmed their resurrection by also hitting number one, while the new single, Nature's Law, is at number two.
"The band can't wait to get into the studio and record the new track. We think we've got a really good song and hopefully it will repeat the success of previous songs, such as New Order's World in Motion," said lead singer Danny McNamara, who is accustomed to hearing the band's songs used as soundtracks for football highlights montages.Like the FA, he is hoping their 2005 single A Glorious Day proves more fitting to England's campaign than 1999's Hooligan. Past form suggests finding a formula that successfully combines terrace appeal, chart success and critical approval is difficult. On the Ball, by Ant and Dec, and On Top of the World, a bizarre collaboration between the Spice Girls and Echo and the Bunnymen, are among recent official efforts that have failed to set the charts alight. A poll by Littlewoods this year found that This Time, a tuneless attempt by the 1982 England squad, was considered the worst World Cup record of all time. But the FA's marketing manager, Tom Harold, said he was confident Embrace's song would "capture the imagination of the fans and players alike".
"The official England World Cup song has become something of an institution and it is really important that we have an original and exciting track," said Mr Harold.
"With only 75 days to go until England's first game against Paraguay, everybody has been asking who will get the gig. We'd like to think we've pulled off something of a coup by bagging such a great band and keeping it secret."
After early success during the heyday of Britpop, including a number one debut album, Embrace were close to splitting up after subsequent albums proved less popular and they parted company with their record label in 2002.
Mark Richardson, managing director of the band's record label, Independiente, said: "This is another high point for Embrace. Since the success of Out of Nothing they have gone from strength to strength. It's a great moment for us."
Melanie Johnson, the band's publisher at EMI Music Publishing, suggested the band to the FA. "Their music has an uplifting, anthemic feel which will capture the spirit of the occasion," she said.
The Kaiser Chiefs, also from Yorkshire, the winners of three Brit awards this year, had been strongly tipped to provide the official track. But it is believed the band pulled out of talks after news of their potential involvement leaked to the press.