John Barnes was paid just £200 for rapping on World in Motion

John Barnes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

John Barnes will forever be synonymous for scoring an incredible solo effort for England against Brazil at the Maracana, fine performances for both Watford and Liverpool, and, of course, his iconic rap on World in Motion.

Released ahead of England's World Cup campaign at Italia 90, Barnes performed the rap which has gone down in history as one of the best football songs ever produced. 

However, he received no royalties for the performance, instead opting - along with the rest of the 23-man squad - to share a pot of around £5,000. 

“We weren’t on royalties – I’m sure New Order did pretty well out of it," Barnes exclusively tells FourFourTwo

“An agent came to us and said we had the option of going on royalties, or getting £5,000 or whatever it was to go into a pool to share between the squad. Someone said, ‘Well, do royalties mean that if we don’t sell any records, we get nothing?’ This was before we knew it was going to be a New Order song – we only knew it was a World Cup song.

"We did an album in 1986 [World Cup Party], which was horrendous, but obviously once we knew it was going to be New Order, how good the song was and all of the PR behind it, we could have made another decision entirely. It was a laugh, though."

While Barnes had previous experience of rapping on songs, he faced competition in the squad ahead of the 1990 World in Motion track. It's a good job Barnes beat his teammate to the now-hugely significant role. 

"Anfield Rap was the [1988] FA Cup Final, so you make a song and we were just pretending to be rappers – we didn’t take it seriously. The New Order one was a proper song, a great group, and that’s why it went to number one. 

"It came down to me and Paul Gascoigne to do the rap, and then I won the rap-off!"

In fact, World in Motion even reached number one in the charts, clearly football fever taking over the song with England's run to the semi-finals of the tournament.

John Barnes chatted to FFT via (opens in new tab).

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.