Euro 2016

Grigg 'on fire', even while he's on the bench

A fan with a mask of Northern Ireland forward Will Grigg waits patiently for the start of the Euro 2016 Group C encounter between Ukraine and Northern Ireland on June 16. Grigg, who has not played so far in the tournament, is the subject of a popular
A fan with a mask of Northern Ireland forward Will Grigg waits patiently for the start of the Euro 2016 Group C encounter between Ukraine and Northern Ireland on June 16. Grigg, who has not played so far in the tournament, is the subject of a popular chant by fans.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Northern Ireland striker Will Grigg will hear thousands of supporters sing his name in the Euro 2016 match against Germany today - and he probably will not even be on the pitch.

A re-working of the 1996 dance track Freed from Desire by Gala, featuring a tribute to Grigg in place of the original words, has become a hugely popular chant whenever the Northern Irish have played in France.

"Will Grigg's on fire, your defence is terrified," the fans chanted during the 1-0 defeat by Poland in Nice and then again at the raucously celebrated 2-0 win over Ukraine in Lyon.

The only problem is that 24-year-old Grigg has not played a minute in the tournament - and he looks unlikely to do so against Germany.

But Grigg, despite just a handful of international caps, has become such a cult figure that Northern Irish fans even wore masks of his face during the Ukraine match.

The chant first caught on as Grigg netted 28 times in 43 appearances in all competitions this season to help former English Premier League team Wigan Athletic win promotion to the Championship.

In May, Wigan supporter Sean Kennedy uploaded a video of the rejigged song on to YouTube.

The beauty of the song is that it can be easily adapted by other teams - simply by adding a striker's name.

The self-effacing Grigg told his club's TV channel after they clinched promotion in May that hearing supporters singing the song spurred him on.

"It's unbelievable. It's a great feeling, it does give you that extra boost and it's been the main song for quite a while now," he said.

Wigan chairman David Sharpe has given Kennedy a free season ticket to thank him "for inventing the best chant ever known to man".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'Grigg 'on fire', even while he's on the bench'. Print Edition | Subscribe