On Sunday, England play their biggest game since 1966, taking on the Italians at Wembley, with the winners crowned the champions of Europe.
The stakes are high, but the omens for England are good, and one man seeking to play his part by keeping the crowd in high spirits is Wembley DJ Tony Perry.
Grandson of legendary Turkish Cypriot entertainer and party organiser Halil Perry, Tony hit the headlines himself this week after opting to play Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline before and after England’s incredible 2-1 win against Denmark in the semi-final.
Sixty thousand fans broke in to song as Tony first played Sweet Caroline as the teams prepared to walk on to the pitch for the start of the game, and again after England’s historic victory.
The England players joined in the fun too after the final whistle had blown, jumping up and down as they accompanied fans belting out the joyful lyrics to Diamond’s classic song.
Tony’s decision to play Sweet Caroline at such a momentous occasion has turned the song into England’s unofficial anthem, helped it to re-chart in Britain fifty years after its first release in 1971.
Entertainment is second nature to Tony, an experienced DJ who has rocked crowds at iconic events and locations all around the world, and presented shows on BBC, Kiss and Capital radio.
From North London and an avid football fan himself (his social media posts suggest he is an Arsenal supporter), Tony’s natural ability comes from a long line of family entertainers, including his cousin and renowned house DJ Eren.
Tony’s grandfather was Halil Perry, a Turkish Cypriot musician who moved to London and soon turned his hand to organising events for his community.
Halil Perry’s venue Aksaray, at 66 Albion Road, Stoke Newington, N16, was the social destination for the community, hosting generations of Turkish Cypriots for their weddings, engagements and other special occasions. Halil son’s Erol Perry was the resident DJ there, and his love of music and the art of entertainment has been passed on to his son Tony.
No doubt father Erol will be delighted to see his son’s journey from Albion Road to resident DJ at Wembley, where he has been spinning party tunes before the kick-off, at half-time and after matches for all the Euro 2020 games.
DJ Tony Perry with his father Erol Perry, son of legendary Turkish Cypriot entertainer Halil Perry
It all climaxes on Sunday, with the eagerly anticipated final between England and Italy. With the entire nation, from the Queen to school children, cheering England on, and an estimated global audience of 600 million watching the final live, it will undoubtedly be Tony’s biggest gig to date.
Let’s hope the musical soundtrack and an electric atmosphere Tony helps create will be matched with England magic on the field.
You can watch the game in BBC or ITV. BBC coverage starts at 7pm, ITV at 6.30pm, with the game kicking off at 8pm.