How 'I Believe That We Will Win' became FC Nantes' victory chant
Surely you've seen the video by now.
U.S. World Cup midfielder Alejandro Bedoya climbs up to the capo stand, leading his French club FC Nantes' supporters in a rousing rendition of what has become the adopted U.S. fan anthem, "I Believe That We Will Win!"
It's a tremendous sight, presumably non-English speakers belting out the U.S. Navy-inspired chant with immense passion. And yet is wasn't the first time. Far from it. For months, it had morphed into the Ligue 1 team's 2013-14 victory cigar.
Bedoya explained that the phenomenon began, naturally, with a – loosely translated – USA triumph over Mexico.
It was an Oct. 19, 2013, away game vs. Ajaccio, and Bedoya had come off the bench in the 81st minute only to score the game-winning goal by beating the opposing goalkeeper -- Mexico World Cup star Guillermo Ochoa -- six minutes later. The game took place four days after the USA saved Mexico in World Cup qualifying by coming back to beat Panama on the final day of the CONCACAF Hexagonal, a game in which Bedoya started and played 90 minutes.
"I ended up coming off the bench and scoring the game-winner and we won 1-0," Bedoya told SI.com while in New York last week. "And only after every win, I don't know if it's tradition or whatever it is, but normally one of the team members leads a chant after every victory. That game obviously I had the game-winner, they pushed me, 'Come on Bedoya, you have to chant!'
"For whatever reason that was the first thing that came to my mind. I don't know why, how, because I think I was in college the last time I saw that, an American football and basketball video with that chant. It just popped into my head to do it. They did it, they fell in love with it and it became the thing of the season. After every win after that game, that was the chant. Even one time one of the really French players did it and his English was kind of bad so he messed it up a little bit. The players loved it, the fans took a liking to it.
"I don't even know if they new exactly what it meant. They just followed the chant."
The video that went viral right before the World Cup was taken after Nantes' season finale in May, a 3-1 home loss to St. Etienne. No matter the result, the club's supporters demanded to finish off the season with one final collective chant of belief.
"The last game of the season, a home game, the captain just came up to me and said 'Hey, you have to do it, the fans want you to do it really bad,'" Bedoya said. "They had set up Facebook fan pages about it, tweeted me. Of course it's all good fun. After a decent season, I went over there and the fans loved it. To hear 30,000 people doing it is pretty awesome."
They showed their appreciation in kind, too. As this angle of the chant shows, fans responded with a chant of their own, sang to the same cadence:
On Friday's SI Now, USMNT midfielder Alejandro Bedoya discusses how the growth of MLS is attracting overseas players to come to the U.S.