The Manic Street Preachers returned to the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, to make their own contribution to an amazing night of football where 70,000 punters saw Wales beat Italy 2-1 in a Euro 2004 qualifying match.
Half and hour before kick-off, the three Blackwood boys took to a small stage in front of the players' tunnel, each taking a note out of the Wales manager Mark Hughes' style book by wearing suits to mark the occasion. Nicky Wire sported a beige number with a home nation football scarf knotted around his neck, while James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore preferred the more traditional dark suit, which James complimented with a bright scarlet shirt reflecting the cry of a regional television campaign who called for the whole nation to "Wear Red For Wales."
The band chose two of their more mainstream anthems to get the evening off to positive start. 'You Stole The Sun From My Heart' didn't seem to be the most rousing or obvious of choices for the event but this was followed by 'Design for Life' which had thousands of fellow Welshmen roaring out the chorus as an alternative to the national anthem.
The Manics have linked themselves with Welsh soccer before, most notably in 1998 when from the stage during a Radio One live broadcast from Cardiff, they called for the sacking of the then Welsh manager and changed the words of their similarly entitled song to "Bobby Gould must go"
Before the match, the band staged an afternoon signing session for their new single 'There By The Grace Of God' at the Virgin Megastore in Cardiff city centre. Despite their reputed strong popularity, only a few hundred fans were prepared to brave the torrential rain and cold to queue to meet them. One fan and fellow Blackwood boy Sam Whatley, 15, found Wire in regular Manics spirit. Sam quoted " 'Every generation has one defining moment,' and you're mine," to which the bassist responded "and you're ours."