This was a single issued by a combination of the 1990 England soccer World Cup squad and the Manchester band New Order. It was the official 1990 England World Cup song and features the England winger, John Barnes, rapping.
The England soccer team recorded a UK #1 hit in 1970 "Back Home." Twenty years later, a completely different collection of footballers returned to the top of the charts with this song. This meant that the England football squad became the first group to return to #1 with a completely new line up.
Two members of New Order, Steve Morris and Gillian Gilbert, had already written a theme for BBC2's youth current affairs show Reportage and they thought the same music could be used for this song. Bernard Sumner from the band then asked comedian and actor Keith Allen to write some lyrics. Allen mischievously attempted to sneak in a drug reference into the song. He told Q Magazine December 2007 edition what happened: "The intention was there but we got ambushed. Tony Wilson, God bless 'im, asked me to write the lyrics for it and I sent him some that said, 'E is for England/England starts with an E/We'll all be smiling when we're in Italy.' The record company said we couldn't do it so it was rewritten: 'We're playing for England/They're playing the song/Arrivederci, it's one on one.'" The "E" Wilson proposed is slang for the drug Ecstasy.
Keith Allen later was involved in another (this time unofficial) World Cup hit song, "Vindaloo" by Fat Les. He is also the father of English singer-songwriter Lily Allen.
New Order drummer Stephen Morris (from Q magazine June 2008): "I am on record as saying 'World In Motion' was a really terrible idea. Sony got us involved because they had this association with the Football Association. I couldn't imagine it being anything other than, you know, (cheesy 1966 World Cup song about mascot of same name) 'World Cup Willy.' But Keith Allen got involved and made it funny."
New Order's Bernard Sumner recalled the recording of the song to the NME June 5, 2010: "I had a gig with 808 State the night before we recorded 'World In Motion.' I turned up at the studio with a very bad hangover. Gazza arrived with a bottle of champagne and I was throwing up in a bin1 The whole team had to come to the studio to make the official song. They were only there for about an hour because they had to go to an opening of C&A somewhere. John Barnes was a really nice guy and really up for it. Quite a few had a go at the rap but he did the best version."