Listen to Alex James’ playlist for the new football season

12 August 2016, 09:00 | Updated: 6 January 2017, 14:45

Our Saturday evening presenter is gearing up for the new season with this football-themed playlist.

Being a football fan is wrought with emotion. It’s a roller-coaster of fear, nerves and joy. Classical music can evoke all these emotions and also calm them, making it the perfect accompaniment to any match – along with a cold beer.

To give the football team energy and focus during training:
The 1st movement of Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven
With one of the most famous openings in music, this piece will help teams launch into the new season with all the focus of Pep Guardiola’s notoriously tight back four. It is energetic and spirited yet delicate, the perfect combination to inspire the players towards a good performance. This is the music of majestic, total football. The first four notes make the letter V in morse code, so it is often known as The Victory Symphony. It was sampled by Walter Murphy for his disco favourite A Fifth of Beethoven. Who knows, it could be what Leicester needs to inspire them towards a repeat of their historic triumph last season.

To help unite the fans and conjure a team spirit for the players:
O Fortuna (O Fortune) from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
Most of us will know this piece as the judges ‘walk-down’ music on The X Factor, when the judges are introduced on stage. It’s a piece of epic proportions and it will also be familiar to Fulham fans because it's been played as a pre-match warm-up theme at Craven Cottage for years. Not that it helped them much last season. It was originally written as a medieval Latin poem. It was put to music in 1936 and still sounds incredibly dramatic to this day.

Nessun Dorma from Turandot by Puccini
This playlist wouldn’t be complete without including this total classic. Who can forget Pavarotti bringing classical music and sport together in the best possible way at Italia '90? At least the England team got a bit further in that tournament than in France this summer. This is a song that like many a football match has reduced grown men to tears and sums up the emotion we all feel when the new season finally kicks off.
For the player who’s messed up and needs to have a word with themselves:
Adagio in G minor by Albinoni
Is this one of the saddest pieces of music ever written? Probably. Your team's star striker has just missed his deciding penalty in a shootout and now walks back to face his teammates on the half-way line. This song is that moment. It's Gazza's tears, it’s the worst game of football you’ve ever seen… it’s England vs Iceland at Euro 2016, encapsulated in just under nine minutes of music.

To help calm the nerves of a manager before the first game:
Canon in D major by Johann Pachelbel
This is the perfect relaxing classical piece to calm the nerves of players in advance of the first game on 13th August. There is nothing like some German Baroque to get in the pre-match zone. This piece already has a strong footballing heritage, as the music is part of The Farm's Altogether Now, which was used by countless teams, as well as at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. Maybe one for Big Sam…

To get fans and new managers in the mood for the first game:
Jupiter from The Planets by Gustav Holst
This is stirring stuff and the excitable opening captures that pre-match buzz of crowds heading for the stadium. The second melody in the piece is used for the patriotic hymn I Vow to Thee, My Country, perfect for fans to pledge allegiance to their club. It might also be a winner if your club has managed to spend 'astronomical' amounts of money this summer. Maybe an especially good one for Mourinho, Pogba and the Man United fans.

Zadok the Priest by George Frideric Handel
Time to get the beers in, it’s nearly kick-off. You’ll instantly recognise this brilliant piece of music because it’s used in the UEFA Champions League Anthem. It’s British through and through as it’s been sung at the coronation of every monarch since the early 1700s. It was also the piece of music that launched Classic FM on air almost 25 years ago.

To help the fans celebrate after their first win:
Pomp & Circumstance March No.1 by Edward Elgar
This is the celebratory piece used in Land of Hope and Glory and perfect for heralding your team's first win - whenever that may be! You'll also know it from the popular chant, “We all follow Southampton/the Arsenal/the West Ham, etc”.


Alex James, in collaboration with the London Youth Session Orchestra, has been working on a series of classical recordings. The first release, titled, ‘Uplifting Classics’, features Handel's ‘Zadok the Priest’ and the new album ‘Emotive Classics’ features Albinoni's ‘Adagio in G minor’, as well as Gustav Holst's music for ‘I Vow to Thee, My Country’. ‘Emotive Classics’ will be released via EMI later this year and will be available to hear online via from 29th August.