If you watched Euro 2016 or saw Iceland play during World Cup qualifying, chances are you’ve seen and heard this:
What on earth is that, you ask?
It’s “The Thunderclap” performed by Iceland’s fanbase.
It’s loud, it’s intimidating — and it’s really really cool. The Thunderclap is used passionately by Iceland’s fans, as a way to encourage players during a match and as a post-match celebration. Check out Iceland’s incredible welcome home after the run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals that was the small nation’s coming out party on the international soccer scene:
Does the Thunderclap having roots in Viking culture?
Many attribute the origins of the Thunderclap to old Viking war chants or pre-battle rituals, but there seems to be evidence that it was inspired — at least in part — by other soccer fans.
However, according to Icelandic publication Morgunbladid, the song was adopted by Icelandic club Stjarnan on a trip to Scottish side, Motherwell.
Fans of the Reykjavik-based side were first introduced to the terrifying terrace chant in a Europa League game with Scottish Premier League side, Motherwell. Motherwell’s slow-cap then evolves into the club’s trademark song, ‘Since I Was Young.’
Stjarnan faced Motherwell in the Europa League qualifying in 2014, and fans of the Reykjavik-based club were apparently so taken with the chant and clap they heard that they tweaked it and adopted it for their national team. According to The Guardian, Scottish fans could have picked up the “Huh!” aspect of the chant from the film 300 about Spartan soldiers released in 2007.
Of course, similar chants have also practiced by fans of French club Lens for years. Fans of the Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer have their own version of the Thunderclap for years, dating back to before the club was re-formed in MLS in 2009.
While the origin may not be as exotic as some might hope for, it’s still a mesmerizing chant that can energize a stadium. Hopefully, we’ll be getting plenty of it in the World Cup.