| 12.5°C Dublin

Robbie Willams signs up to English World Cup anthem

Robbie Williams and Russell Brand were unveiled today as stars of the team for a re-boot of football anthem 3 Lions - as the track is given an operatic update.

The duo have joined the song's original team of Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds - plus a choir and soprano - to recreate the song for a third time.

The track - to be released on Monday - is often named as the greatest football anthem.

It has been revamped ahead of next month's World Cup Finals in South Africa, in the absence of an official track.

Williams said he had steered clear of football songs in the past because he thought 3 Lions could not be beaten - so could not resist taking part in the overhaul.

The re-recorded song, under the name The Squad, also sees commentator John Motson join the team.

Producer Trevor Horn masterminded the new version and recorded a full orchestra plus singers from the Official England Supporters Club at Abbey Road Studios.

Instead of the crowd noises of old - and the terrace chant of "It's coming home" - at the start, the song now begins with a classical approach led by soprano Olivia Safe.

The song was first recorded by comics Frank Skinner and David Baddiel and Lightning Seeds main man Ian Broudie to be the anthem for Euro '96.

But it was such a success that it was redone two years later for the World Cup in France and outshone the official England track featuring the Spice Girls.

Horn - who produced Williams' latest album and was behind the Buggles and Frankie Goes To Hollywood - said: "It had to be done. I am either the brave one or the foolish one who said I will have a go - I did it for England."

And Williams, a keen football fan who is taking part in Soccer Aid next month, said: "I've always been approached to write football songs but have always declined as I thought 3 Lions could never be beaten - so I am really happy to be part of this record.

"I am counting down the days until the start of the World Cup."

The track - to be issued by Parlophone Records - sees a return to the original 1996 lyric featuring references to Bobby Moore, Gary Lineker, Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles. In '98, the words were adapted to include Paul Ince, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer and Stuart Pearce.

The new version features the singers taking a section each with Motson saying: "In the villages or the towns, in the gardens or the streets, on the fields, in the parks - football."

The song rounds off with a return to the operatic, orchestral style.

Broudie said: "The public really wanted a new version of 3 Lions and after 12 years it felt like the right time to have a new recording but it had to be just right. When I hear this version... I can't wait for the World Cup to start."

Safe - who has played live with Williams and releases her debut Horn-produced album this year - said: "I was intrigued as to how they would combine the classical voice with this most popular of football songs, but the arrangement, huge orchestra and choirs sound incredible together."

© Press Association