JOEY Tempest will be forever associated with one of heavy rock’s monster anthems . . . but the Swedish frontman never imagined it would be a global hit for his band Europe 25 years ago.

Tempest, who penned the chart-busting single The Final Countdown that soared to number one in 30 countries and sold eight million copies, said: ‘’When I first heard the synth introduction to The Final Countdown, my reaction was, ‘No, this is nuts. We just can’t use this.’ “We’d certainly never planned to release it as a single.

“It was written to be the opening song for our live shows, and just for the LP. Well, that song has had a roller-coaster life of its own ever since.

“It is incredible that it has endured for so long, but in a way I’m not surprised because it has that very English galloping tempo for a rock song.

“I remember I had the riff for Countdown tucked away in a drawer since my college years, but I never thought it would be such a massive song when I put the lyrics to it years later.

“We did a lot of the summer festivals and when we played The Final Countdown we had hundreds of young rocker kids dancing in the mosh pit, some probably discovering our music for the first time.

“The plan was to slowly re-establish Europe as a rock band. But the reception we’ve had, in this country especially, is beyond what we had hoped for.’’ Tempest says the song’s lyrics were inspired by David Bowie’s classic track Space Oddity, and he added: “For us, the UK is the cradle of rock. I took inspiration from Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills and UFO’s Lights Out.

“And for the lyric, the story of the last days on earth, I went back to Space Oddity. That was the first single I ever got.

“David Bowie had a fascination with space travel and that became my fascination too.’’ Europe’s new album, Bag of Bones, is their fourth since they reunited in 2003 with the classic line-up that recorded The Final Countdown.

“We call it our miracle album, and one that we couldn’t have done with the old band because we were not mature enough. There’s a lot of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin in this new record. It is spontaneous and raw, a bit more bluesy. We’ve definitely surprised ourselves.’’

Europe, Manchester Ritz, Friday, November 23. Details from 0844 478 0898