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Why Borussia Dortmund fans will be singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before Champions League match against PSG

Gerry and the Pacemakers’ “You’ll Never Walk Alone” may be a staple of Anfield, but even without Liverpool participating in the UEFA Champions League this season, the song will not go unheard in Europe’s top club competition.

Borussia Dortmund fans have been singing the song at home games since 1996 and are no doubt ready to do so again on Wednesday, when the team will play their first Champions League semifinal in 11 years and host Paris Saint-Germain to Signal Iduna Park for the occasion. The decades-long staple at Dortmund games came to be thanks to a once-skeptical cover band, a request from a friend and a connection to their local club.

Here’s a glance at the history behind “You’ll Never Walk Alone” becoming an iconic anthem for Dortmund fans.

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One cover band covers another

Matthias Kartne, the frontman Dortmund-based cover band Pur Harmony, fielded a request from a good friend back in 1996: a cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Kartne greeted the ask with hesitation, simply saying in an interview with Liverpool’s official website, “Oh no!”

The group obliged a week later, though, and sold 50,000 copies of the cover. The Dortmund fan then shared the recording with the club’s stadium announcer, who played it one day and won the fans over in the process. The club’s fans also quickly preferred it over Gerry and the Pacemakers’ iconic rendition.

“Norbert Dickel [Dortmund’s stadium announcer] tried to use Gerry and the Pacemakers’ version but the fans liked our song [better],” Kartne said.

The song’s soccer legacy

The most famed version of the song was released in 1963 by Liverpool based band Gerry and the Pacemakers, who covered a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. In the musical, one character sings it to comfort protagonist Julie after her husband stabs himself after an attempted robbery and the emotional weight of the song, even outside of the context of the musical, has clearly resonated with soccer fans in multiple countries.

Gerry and the Pacemakers’ version peaked at number one for four consecutive weeks on the U.K. singles chart and was quickly adopted by Liverpool fans as their anthem. Several other clubs around Europe have adopted the song as their own, including Celtic in 1966 and fellow Bundesliga club Mainz.

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Wednesday, May 1 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Location: Signal Iduna Park — Dortmund, Germany
  • Watch: Paramount+
  • Odds: Dortmund +175; Draw +260; PSG +138

Semifinals TV schedule

All times U.S./Eastern

TUESDAY, APRIL 30 TIME HOW TO WATCH
CBS Sports Golazo Matchday 1 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network

UEFA Champions League Today Pre-Match

2 p.m.

Paramount+

Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

3 p.m.

CBS, Paramount+

UEFA Champions League Today Post-Match 

5 p.m.

CBS Sports NetworkParamount+

Scoreline 5 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network
The Champions Club 8 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network
Kickin’ It: Trae Tha Truth 9 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network
WEDNESDAY, MAY 1 TIME HOW TO WATCH
CBS Sports Golazo Matchday 1 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network

UEFA Champions League Today Pre-Match

2 p.m.

Paramount+

Borussia Dortmund vs. Paris Saint-Germain

3 p.m.

Paramount+

UEFA Champions League Today Post-Match 

5 p.m.

CBS Sports NetworkParamount+

Scoreline 5 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network
The Champions Club 8 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network
TUESDAY, MAY 7 TIME HOW TO WATCH
CBS Sports Golazo Matchday 1 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network

UEFA Champions League Today Pre-Match

2 p.m.

Paramount+

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Borussia Dortmund

3 p.m.

Paramount+

UEFA Champions League Today Post-Match 

5 p.m.

CBS Sports NetworkParamount+

Scoreline 5 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network
The Champions Club 8 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network
WEDNESDAY, MAY 8 TIME HOW TO WATCH
CBS Sports Golazo Matchday 1 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network

UEFA Champions League Today Pre-Match

2 p.m.

Paramount+

Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

3 p.m.

Paramount+

UEFA Champions League Today Post-Match 

5 p.m.

CBS Sports NetworkParamount+

Scoreline 5 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network
The Champions Club 8 p.m. CBS Sports Golazo Network

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