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Meet the Croydon man who wrote Champions League theme

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IT IS one of the most recognised pieces of music on the planet and sends shivers down the spines of the world's greatest footballers.

But did you know the UEFA Champions League theme song was written by a former Croydon schoolboy who has now directed a film starring Trigger from Only Fools and Horses?

Tony Britten, 58, was commissioned to pen a classical piece to accompany the rebranded European Cup in 1992.

The former Trinity boy was asked to base the 'serious' piece, simply known as 'Champions League', on elements of Handel's music.

Tony, who also conducted the theme to the film Robocop, said: "I had a commercials agent and they approached me to write something anthemic and because it was just after The Three Tenors at the World Cup in Italy so classical music was all the rage.

"Hooliganism was a major, major problem and UEFA wanted to take the game into a completely different area altogether.

"There's a rising string phase which I pinched from Handel and then I wrote my own tune. It has a kind of Handelian feel to it but I like to think it's not a total rip-off."

Tony, who does not own the rights to the song but receives royalties from UEFA every time it is used, did not think it would prove such a hit with football fans.

He said: "I sort of knew when I finished it that it was good and I had done the job to the letter but I couldn't foresee it taking off quite like it did.

"It sounds arrogant to say but I was doing a lot of TV stuff at the time and it was just another job at the end of the day.

"UEFA have been very smart by not selling it to anyone because it is a very powerful audio-branding tool.

"Everyone knows it and when you hear it while making tea you think, 'let's go and watch the football'.

"But the key to any marketing tool is not to dilute the market with it and to keep it saved for special occasions."

The song is said to be so popular with players that even Gareth Bale cited the music as being one of the key reasons he wanted to play Champions League football.

Tony, who used to live on Hook Hill, Sanderstead, added: "That was very sweet of him and I'm happy to take the compliments.

"It has followed me round but I am proud of it and it's also opened other doors for me by allowing me to finance all the other arty-farty stuff I'm interested in."

Tony still composes occasionally but puts a lot of his energy into his film production company Capriol Films.

Last year, he wrote and directed independent sleeper hit In Love With Alma Cogan, starring Only Fools star Roger Lloyd Pack and former Heartbeat actress Niamh Cusack.

And his latest project was a film about fellow composer Benjamin Britten called Peace and Conflict.

He also returned to composing recently to write the music for The Sun's new app Sun+.

But Tony, who divides his time between homes in Norfolk and Honor Oak Park, south London, admits it is the Champions League song which he is most likely to be remembered for, adding: "It is probably one of the most well-known songs in the world because of the reach of football.

"I'm not the world's biggest football fan and would sooner watch rugby but it has done well for me, that's for sure."

Meet the Croydon man who wrote Champions League theme


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