England at the FIFA World Cup

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This is a record of England's results at the FIFA World Cup. The World Cup is the premier competitive international football tournament, first played in 1930, whose finals stage has been held every four years since, except 1942 and 1946, due to World War II.[1]

The tournament consists of two parts, the qualification phase and the final phase (officially called the World Cup Finals). The qualification phase, which currently take place over the three years preceding the Finals, is used to determine which teams qualify for the Finals. The current format of the Finals involves 32 teams competing for the title, at venues within the host nation (or nations) over a period of about a month. The World Cup Finals is the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world, with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the 2006 tournament final.[2][3]

England did not enter the competition until 1950, but has entered all 17 subsequent tournaments. It has failed to qualify for the finals on three occasions, 1974 (Germany), 1978 (Argentina) and 1994 (USA). Their best ever performance is winning the Cup in the 1966 tournament held in England, and reaching fourth-place in 1990, held in Italy. Other than that, the team has reached the quarter-finals on six occasions, including 2002 (Korea/Japan), and 2006 (Germany). The 2014 (Brazil) World Cup was their worst ever performance in a major tournament.[4] For the first time, they lost both their first two matches and did not advance from group stage. They had only one point (from a goalless draw with Costa Rica), and, following a 1-0 loss by Italy against Costa Rica, could not reach the knockout stage.[5]

England are one of only eight countries to ever win the FIFA World Cup, which they did in 1966 when they hosted the finals. They defeated West Germany 4–2 after extra time to win the World Cup title. Since then, they have generally reached the knockout stages of almost every competition they've qualified for, including a fourth-place finish in the 1990 World Cup. England also reached the semi-final of the UEFA European Championship in 1968 and 1996. They were the most successful of the "home nations", in the British Home Championship with 54 wins (including 20 shared wins) before the competition was suspended in 1984. England have had more goalless draws than any other nation.[6]


Year Round Position GP W D* L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Did not enter
Italy 1934
France 1938
Brazil 1950 Group Stage 8th 3 1 0 2 2 2
Switzerland 1954 Quarter-finals 6th 3 1 1 1 8 8
Sweden 1958 Group Stage 11th 4 0 3 1 4 5
Chile 1962 Quarter-finals 8th 4 1 1 2 5 6
England 1966 Champions 1st 6 5 1 0 11 3
Mexico 1970 Quarter-finals 8th 4 2 0 2 4 4
West Germany 1974 Did not qualify
Argentina 1978
Spain 1982 2nd Group Stage 6th 5 3 2 0 6 1
Mexico 1986 Quarter-finals 8th 5 2 1 2 7 3
Italy 1990 Fourth place 4th 7 3 3 1 8 6
United States 1994 Did not qualify
France 1998 Round of 16 9th 4 2 1 1 7 4
South KoreaJapan 2002 Quarter-finals 6th 5 2 2 1 6 3
Germany 2006 Quarter-finals 7th 5 3 2 0 6 2
South Africa 2010 Round of 16 13th 4 1 2 1 3 5
Brazil 2014 Group Stage 26th 3 0 1 2 2 4
Total 14/20 1 Title 62 26 20 16 79 56
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks


Brazil 1950[edit]

England's first qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup doubled as the 1950 British Home Championship. The series kicked off for England on 15 October 1949 at Ninian Park, Cardiff against Wales. Stan Mortensen gave England the lead after 22 minutes, and just 7 minutes later, Jackie Milburn doubled the lead. This was the first goal of Milburn's hat trick, which left England 4–0 up with 20 minutes to play. Mal Griffiths scored a consolation goal for Wales 10 minutes from time, but England held on for a comfortable victory.

A month later, England welcomed Ireland to Maine Road, and it began well for the home side as Jack Rowley scored inside 6 minutes. England were already 6–0 up, thanks to Jack Froggatt, two for Stan Pearson, Stan Mortensen and a second from Rowley, by the time Ireland struck back through Samuel Smyth after 55 minutes. Rowley added a third and a fourth to his tally in the three minutes following Smyth's goal, however, leaving the score at 8–1 at the hour mark. The frantic scoring rate calmed down after that, with only one apeice before the final whistle, with Stan Pearson completing his brace for England's ninth, and Bobby Brennan scoring for Ireland.

It wasn't until May 1950 that England travelled to Hampden Park to face Scotland, who were also undefeated after their games against Ireland and Wales. With the top two from the group qualifying, both teams were guaranteed progression to the finals, and the game was solely for the honour of winning the British Home Championship, and the seeding advantage to be enjoyed upon reaching Brazil. A solitary goal, from Roy Bentley, gave England the victory, the title and the top spot in the group.

England were seeded in pot 1 for the finals, which meant they were the favourites to progress from Group 2, which also contained Spain, Chile and the United States. England's campaign kicked off against Chile in Rio de Janeiro, and, as was expected, England cruised to a 2–0 victory, courtesy of goals from Stan Mortensen and Wilf Mannion.

Their troubles began four days later when they faced the Americans in Belo Horizonte in what has become one of the most famous matches of all time. Joe Gaetjens scored the only goal of the match to give the USA an unlikely victory, which has gone down as one of the World Cup's greatest upsets. The English newspapers were so confident of an English victory that when the result was telegrammed back, they assumed a misprint and printed the score as 10–1 in England's favour.

This left England in a sticky situation prior to their final match, against Spain in Rio. They needed to win, and for Chile to beat the USA, to stand any chance of going through, and even then they would need the goal averages to fall in their favour. As it turned out, no such calculations were necessary, as Spain's Telmo Zarra scored the only goal of the game, eliminating England from the competition. The team returned to England with their tails between their legs.

Player Club Qualifying
Stan Mortensen England Blackpool 3 1 4
Jack Rowley England Manchester United 4 0 4
Jackie Milburn England Newcastle United 3 0 3
Stan Pearson England Manchester United 2 0 2
Wilf Mannion England Middlesbrough 0 1 1
Roy Bentley England Chelsea 1 0 1
Jack Froggatt England Portsmouth 1 0 1

Switzerland 1954[edit]

As with their first World Cup, England's qualifying for the 1954 edition also constituted the 1954 British Home Championship. They played Wales at Ninian Park as their first match once again, and the 4–1 result was the same. However, unlike four years earlier, it was the home side that went into the lead, after 22 minutes through Ivor Allchurch. Despite being 1–0 down at half time, England scored four within eight minutes of the restart; two each for Dennis Wilshaw and Nat Lofthouse.

Goodison Park was the venue for England's home clash against Ireland, who were newly renamed Northern Ireland in FIFA's eyes. Harold Hassall got England off to a good start with a goal after just 10 minutes. Eddie McMorran put the Irish back on terms just before the hour mark, but Hassall completed his brace 6 minutes later. Lofthouse completed a comfortable 3–1 win for England.

With the top two in the group qualifying for the finals, the final game between England and Scotland, at Hampden Park, settled nothing except the placings within the group, despite Scotland having dropped points with a 3–3 draw at home to Wales. Allan Brown put the home side ahead after just 7 minutes, but it was all square again thanks to Ivor Broadis just four minutes later. Johnny Nicholls gave England the lead for the first time just after half time, and they began to extend a lead after Ronnie Allen's 68th minute goal. Jimmy Mullen made the game all but certain 7 minutes from time, and although Willie Ormond scored a consolation for Scotland with just 1 minute to play, England topped the competition for the second time in a row.

England were drawn in Group 4 for the finals, with hosts Switzerland, Italy and Belgium. In an odd twist, unique to the 1954 cup, England, as one of the two seeded teams, would not have to play Italy, the other, in the group. Equally, Switzerland and Belgium did not have to play each other. England's first game in Switzerland was against Belgium in Basel, and they suffered a shock as Léopold Anoul put the Belgians into the lead after just 5 minutes. Ivor Broadis put the favourites back on terms just over 20 minutes later, and although Nat Lofthouse gave England the lead 10 minutes later, it was proving to be tougher than they had expected against the Belgians. Broadis scored his second just after the hour, but Henri Coppens hit back four minutes later to keep Belgium in the game at only 3–2 down. Anoul completed his brace another four minutes after that to level the scorers again. In another oddity peculiar to this World Cup, games which were drawn in the groups would go into extra time, and as such the teams played on with the score at 3–3. Just one minute into the added period, Lofthouse added a fourth for England and they seemed to have won it, but Jimmy Dickinson scored an own goal 3 minutes later to put the score back at 4–4. It stayed this way until the extra period was up, and as penalties were yet to be invented and replays were not used in the group, the match was put down as a draw.

England's second and final group game was against the hosts in Bern. This proved to be an easier game for the Three Lions, and they scored one goal in each half (from Jimmy Mullen and Dennis Wilshaw respectively) to give them a comfortable 2–0 win. As Switzerland (against England), Italy (against Switzerland) and Belgium (against Italy) had all lost one game, England progressed as group winners, along with Switzerland, who won a play off against Italy.

England faced the winners of group 3 and defending champions Uruguay in the quarter-finals. Carlos Borges gave the South Americans the lead inside 5 minutes, but Lofthouse put England back on terms 10 minutes later. England were clearly struggling, but held on until just before half time, when Obdulio Varela gave the lead back Uruguay. Juan Alberto Schiaffino doubled the lead just after the break, but Tom Finney kept England's foot in the ball with his 67th minute goal. However, it was all over after Javier Ambrois restored the two goal lead with 12 minutes to play. The score remained at 4–2, and England were out.

Player Club Qualifying
Nat Lofthouse England Bolton Wanderers 3 3 6
Ivor Broadis England Newcastle United 1 2 3
Dennis Wilshaw England Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 1 3
Jimmy Mullen England Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 1 2
Harold Hassall England Bolton Wanderers 2 0 2
Tom Finney England Preston North End 0 1 1
Ronnie Allen England West Bromwich Albion 1 0 1
Johnny Nicholls England West Bromwich Albion 1 0 1


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