Northern Ireland national football team
|Nickname(s)||Green and White Army, Norn Iron|
|Association||Irish Football Association|
|Head coach||Michael O'Neill|
|Asst coach||Billy McKinlay|
|Most caps||Pat Jennings (119)|
|Top scorer||David Healy (36)|
|Home stadium||Windsor Park|
|FIFA ranking||85 +5|
|Highest FIFA ranking||27 (August 2007, April 2009)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||129 (September 2012)|
|Highest Elo ranking||(1882-5 or May 1986)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||114 (11 October 2013)|
| Ireland 0 – 13 England
(Belfast; 18 February 1882)
| Ireland 7 – 0 Wales
(Belfast; 1 February 1930)
| Ireland 0 – 13 England
(Belfast; 18 February 1882)
|Appearances||3 (First in 1958)|
|Best result||Quarterfinals, 1958, 1982|
The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1921 all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association (IFA). In 1921 the jurisdiction of the IFA was reduced to Northern Ireland following the secession of clubs in the soon-to-be Irish Free State, although its team purported to remain the national team for all of Ireland until 1950, and used the name Ireland until the 1970s.[n 1] The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) organises the separate Republic of Ireland national football team.
- 1 History
- 2 Past performances
- 3 Stadium
- 4 Controversy and sectarianism
- 5 Popular culture
- 6 Competitive record
- 7 Players
- 8 Player records
- 9 Managers
- 10 Media coverage
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
On 18 February 1882, fifteen months after the founding of the Irish FA, Ireland made their international debut against England, losing 13–0 in a friendly played at Bloomfield in Belfast. This remains the record defeat for the team, and also England's largest winning margin. On 25 February 1882, Ireland played their second international, against Wales at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, and an equaliser from Johnston became Ireland’s first ever goal.
In 1884 Ireland competed in the inaugural British Home Championship and lost all three games. Ireland did not win their first game until 19 February 1887, a 4–1 win over Wales in Belfast. Between their debut and this game, they had a run of 14 defeats and 1 draw, the longest run without a win in the 1800s. Despite the end of this run, heavy defeats continued. On 3 March 1888 they lost 11–0 to Wales and three weeks later on 24 March they lost 10–2 to Scotland. Further heavy defeats came on 15 March 1890 when they lost 9–1 to England, on 18 February 1899 when they lost 13–2 to England and on 2 February 1901 when they lost 11–0 to Scotland.
In 1899 the Irish FA also changed its rules governing the selection of non-resident players. Before then the Ireland team selected its players exclusively from the Irish League, in particular the three Belfast-based clubs Linfield, Cliftonville and Distillery. On 4 March 1899 for the game against Wales, McAteer included four Irish players based in England. The change in policy produced dividends as Ireland won 1–0. Three weeks later, on 25 March one of these four players, Archie Goodall, aged 34 years and 279 days, became the oldest player to score in international football during the 19th century when he scored Ireland’s goal in a 9–1 defeat to Scotland.
In 1920 Ireland was partitioned into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. In 1922 Southern Ireland gained independence as the Irish Free State, later to become a republic under the name of Ireland. Amid these political upheavals, a rival football association, the Football Association of Ireland, emerged in Dublin in 1921 and organised a separate league and international team. In 1923, at a time when the home nations had withdrawn from FIFA, the FAI was recognised by FIFA as the governing body of the Irish Free State on the condition that it changed its name to the Football Association of the Irish Free State. The Irish FA continued to organise its national team on an all-Ireland basis.
Between 1928 and 1946 the IFA were not affiliated to FIFA and the two Ireland teams co-existed, never competing in the same competition. However, on 8 March 1950, in a 0–0 draw with Wales at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham in a World Cup qualifier, the IFA fielded a team that included four players who were born in the Irish Free State. All four players had previously played for the FAI in their qualifiers and as a result had played for two different associations in the same FIFA World Cup tournament.
After complaints from the FAI, FIFA intervened and restricted players' eligibility based on the political border. In 1953 FIFA ruled neither team could be referred to as Ireland, decreeing that the FAI team be officially designated as the Republic of Ireland, while the IFA team was to become Northern Ireland.
British Home Championship
Until the 1950s, the major competition for Northern Ireland/Ireland was the British Home Championship. The team had won the competition eight times, taking the title outright on three occasions. They were the last winners of the now defunct competition held in 1984, and hence still are the British champions, and the trophy remains the property of the Irish FA.
FIFA World Cup
Northern Ireland's best World Cup performance was in their first appearance in the finals, the 1958 World Cup, where they reached the quarter-finals after beating Czechoslovakia 2–1 in the play-off. They were knocked out by France, losing 4–0. In the 1958 competition Northern Ireland became the least populous country to have qualified for the World Cup, a record that stood until Trinidad & Tobago qualified for the 2006 World Cup. Northern Ireland remains, however, the least populous country to have qualified for more than one World Cup finals tournament, to win a World Cup finals match, to have scored at a World Cup finals, and to have progressed from the first round of the World Cup finals.
Captain of the national side at the 1958 World Cup was Danny Blanchflower, who also captained Tottenham Hotspur in the English league and was twice footballer of the year in England. His younger brother Jackie was also a key member of the national team, and won two league titles in England with Manchester United, until his career was ended by injuries suffered in the Munich air disaster of February 1958.
Despite the presence of world class forward George Best, another Manchester United player, for most of the 1960s and into the 1970s, Northern Ireland failed to qualify for any major tournaments during this time.
Northern Ireland also qualified for the 1982 World Cup. Their opening game was against Yugoslavia at the La Romareda in Zaragoza. It was the international debut of 17-year-old Norman Whiteside who became the youngest player ever in the World Cup finals, a record that still stands. The game finished goalless. Five days later they drew 1–1 with Honduras, which was a disappointment, and many believed had doomed Northern Ireland's chances of advancing in the competition. They needed a win against hosts Spain in the third and final group game at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia. They faced a partisan atmosphere with a mostly Spanish crowd and a Spanish speaking referee in Héctor Ortiz who was unwilling to punish dirty play from the Spanish players. However a mistake from goalkeeper Luis Arconada gifted Gerry Armstrong the only goal of the game, and despite having Mal Donaghy sent off on 60 minutes, Northern Ireland went on to record an historic 1–0 win and top the first stage group.
A 2–2 draw with Austria at the Vicente Calderón Stadium meant that a win against France would take them into the semi-finals, however a French team inspired by Michel Platini won 4–1 and eliminated Northern Ireland from the competition.
UEFA European Championship
The side have yet to participate in their first European Championship finals. This is despite of the fact that Northern Ireland beat West Germany 1–0 both home and away in qualifiers for Euro 84; the latter was West Germany's first ever home defeat in either European Championship or World Cup qualifiers. More recently, David Healy broke the record for goals scored in one Euro campaign, previously held by Davor Suker of Croatia, by scoring 13 times in Northern Ireland's attempt to qualify for Euro 2008.
Lawrie Sanchez was appointed in January 2004 after a run of ten games without a goal under the previous manager Sammy McIlroy, which was a European record for any international team until San Marino went over 20 games without scoring between October 2008 and August 2012. That run ended after his first game in charge, a 1–4 defeat to Norway in a friendly in February 2004. The run of sixteen games without a win ended after his second game, a 1–0 victory in a friendly over Estonia, with a largely experimental side, in March 2004.
On 7 September 2005 Northern Ireland beat England 1–0 in a 2006 World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park. David Healy scored the winner in the 73rd minute. Almost a year later, on 6 September 2006, Northern Ireland defeated Spain 3–2 in a qualifier for Euro 2008, with Healy scoring a hat-trick. In June 2007 Nigel Worthington was named manager in the place of Lawrie Sanchez, who took over at Fulham. Initially Worthington took over until the end of the Euro 2008 qualifiers, but was later given a contract until the end of the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Northern Ireland play their home matches at Windsor Park, Belfast, home of Linfield F.C., which they have use of on a 108 year lease, giving the owners 15% of revenue, including gate receipts and TV rights.
There was a proposal to build a multisports stadium for Northern Ireland at the disused Maze prison outside Lisburn for the use of Rugby, Gaelic games and football. This plan was given an "in principle" go-ahead by the Irish Football Association. However, it was opposed by fans, over 85% of whom in a match day poll conducted by the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs ("AONISC") preferred to stay at a smaller new or redeveloped ground in the city of Belfast. The AONISC organised a protest against the move to the Maze at the game against Estonia in March 2006.
The issue assumed ever greater urgency by 2007, following a series of inspections which questioned the suitability of Windsor Park to host international football. Following a reduction of capacity due to the closure of the Railway Stand, the IFA made it known that they wished to terminate their contract for the use of the stadium. A report on health and safety in October 2007 indicated that the South Stand might have to be closed for internationals, which would further reduce the stadium's capacity to 9,000. In April 2008, Belfast City Council announced that they had commissioned Drivers Jonas to conduct a feasibility study into the building of a Sports Stadium in Belfast which could accommodate international football, which was followed at the beginning of May 2008 by speculation that the Maze Stadium project was going to be radically revised by Peter Robinson, the Finance and Personnel Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly, so that any construction might be used for purposes other than football, rugby union and Gaelic games. Given the time that is needed to build a new stadium, in the absence of significant work improving Windsor Park, Northern Ireland may be forced to play their home games at a venue outside Northern Ireland for a period.
In March 2009 proposals were announced for the construction of a new 25,000 seat stadium in the Sydenham area of East Belfast as an alternative to the Maze proposal. This would form part of a major development, with links to both George Best Belfast City Airport and the Bangor railway line. The development would also include a hotel, and retail/leisure areas. The stadium itself would be used for both football and rugby union, with Glentoran and Ulster Rugby intended as tenants. However, Ulster GAA, who were a partner in the Maze proposal, stated that in the event of a new stadium being built in East Belfast, which is a major unionist area, their preference would then be to remain at Casement Park in nationalist West Belfast.
The IFA were initially non-committal about any of the proposals for improving their facilities, be it rebuilding Windsor Park, or supporting either the Maze or Sydenham proposals. However, in September 2009, they issued an announcement in favour of the redevelopment of Windsor Park. Although there were no specifics to this, Linfield had previously released a study with two proposals, of which the major one would be a £20m rebuilding of the stadium, raising capacity to 20,000. In 2011, the Northern Ireland Executive allocated £138m for a major programme of stadium redevelopment throughout Northern Ireland, with £28m allocated to the redevelopment of Windsor Park into a brand new, 20,000 all-seater stadium.
Controversy and sectarianism
An element of Northern Ireland's support is perceived by some to be sectarian. Neil Lennon, a Roman Catholic Celtic player who had been subject to sectarian abuse from some supporters while playing for Northern Ireland in Windsor Park, was issued with a death-threat by Loyalists and retired from international football as a result.
Steps have been taken to eradicate the sectarian element within the support. Lennon has been quick to praise these initiatives, although added that because of Windsor Park's location it still "can be an intimidating place for Catholics to go. But the IFA have made huge strides." He also praised the "Football For All" Outstanding Achievement Award Winner Stewart MacAfee, for the work they have carried out to create a more inclusive atmosphere at international games.
|“||People like Stewart are the unsung heroes who have been brave enough to challenge sectarianism and who have actively created a more fun, safe and family-orientated atmosphere at international games. Fans like Stewart have made the atmosphere at Northern Ireland football games in recent years the envy of Fans across not only Europe but World football. From a personal point of view I would like to thank them for their efforts.||”|
In 2006, Northern Ireland's supporters were awarded the Brussels International Supporters Award for their charity work, general good humour and behaviour and efforts to stamp out sectarianism. Representatives of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs received the award from UEFA and EU representatives prior to the Northern Ireland versus Spain game at Windsor Park in September 2006.
Steps by the IFA to promote Football For All continue. At a friendly match in Dublin in 2011 against Scotland, the IFA carried out an inquiry following an incident in which a minority number of drunken fans sang sectarian songs. One fan who was identified in the inquiry was said to be in line for a lifetime ban from receiving tickets to any future Northern Ireland home or away games.
Northern Ireland Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín, the first senior Sinn Féin representative to attend an international at Windsor Park, commended "the very real efforts that have been made by the IFA to tackle sectarianism at their matches" after a match in August 2011.
The Green and White Army is the name given to the fans that follow the Northern Ireland national football team.
Since the defeat of England in 2005 there has been an increased demand for tickets outstripping supply. Tongue-in-cheek songs such as "We're not Brazil, we're Northern Ireland" (sung to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic, an American Civil War song), 'It's Just Like Watching Brazil' and 'Stand up for the Ulstermen' are popular at home matches.
One of the first footballing celebrities was former Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer George Best. The 1968 European Footballer of the Year, Best won 37 caps and scored 9 goals for his country.
FIFA World Cup
- 1930 to 1938 – Did not enter
- 1950 to 1954 – Did not qualify
- 1958 – Quarter-finals
- 1962 to 1978 – Did not qualify
- 1982 – Second Group Stage
- 1986 – Round 1
- 1990 to 2014 – Did not qualify
UEFA European Championship
Summary of results
- All competitive matches
Data correct as of Northern Ireland v Finland, 15 August 2012
The team have also won the Home Championship 8 times, including 5 shared.
Friendly Matches 2013
|15 November 2013||Adana 5 Ocak Stadium||Turkey||0–1 |
FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifying
Friendly Matches 2014
|5 March 2014||GSP Stadium, Nicosia||Cyprus||0–0 |
|30 May 2014||Estadio Centenario, Montevideo||Uruguay||– |
|4 June 2014||Valparaíso||Chile||– |
UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying
On 23 February 2014 Northern Ireland were drawn to face the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greece, Hungary and Romania in UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F. The matches are scheduled to be played between September 2014 and October 2015.
Caps and goals correct as of 5 March 2014.
The following players have been called up to the Northern Ireland squad during the last 12 months.
FIFA World Cup squads
Greatest Ever Team
GK: Pat Jennings
RB: Jimmy Nicholl
CB: Aaron Hughes
CB: Jackie Blanchflower
LB: Mal Donaghy
RM: George Best
CM: Danny Blanchflower
CM: Steven Davis
LM: Michael Hughes
CF: David Healy
CF: Peter Doherty
Northern Ireland players with 50 or more caps
As of 5 March 2014, the players with the most caps for Northern Ireland are:
Top Ireland / Northern Ireland goalscorers
|#||Player||Career||Goals (Caps)||Goals per game|
|1||David Healy||2000–2013||36 (95)||0.38|
|2||Billy Gillespie||1913–1932||13 (25)||0.52|
|Colin Clarke||1986–1993||13 (38)||0.34|
|4||Joe Bambrick||1928–1940||12 (11)||1.09|
|Gerry Armstrong||1977–1986||12 (63)||0.19|
|Jimmy Quinn||1985–1996||12 (46)||0.26|
|Iain Dowie||1990–2000||12 (59)||0.20|
|8||Olphie Stanfield||1887–1897||11 (30)||0.37|
|9||Billy Bingham||1951–1964||10 (56)||0.18|
|Jimmy McIlroy||1952–1966||10 (55)||0.18|
|Peter McParland||1954–1962||10 (34)||0.29|
|Johnny Crossan||1960–1968||10 (24)||0.42|
- As of 5 March 2014
|Manager||Career||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Win %||Loss %|
|Doherty, PeterPeter Doherty||1951–1962||56||11||15||30||19.64||53.57|
|Peacock, BertieBertie Peacock||1962–1967||22||9||3||10||40.91||45.45|
|Bingham, BillyBilly Bingham||1967–1971||20||8||3||9||40.00||45.00|
|Neill, TerryTerry Neill||1971–1975||20||6||6||8||30.00||40.00|
|Clements, DaveDave Clements||1975–1976||11||2||2||7||18.18||63.64|
|Blanchflower, DannyDanny Blanchflower||1976–1979||16||4||4||8||25.00||50.00|
|Bingham, BillyBilly Bingham||1980–1994||118||40||34||44||33.90||37.29|
|Hamilton, BryanBryan Hamilton||1994–1998||32||8||9||15||25.00||46.88|
|McMenemy, LawrieLawrie McMenemy||1998–1999||14||4||3||7||28.57||50.00|
|McIlroy, SammySammy McIlroy||2000–2003||31||4||10||17||12.90||54.84|
|Sanchez, LawrieLawrie Sanchez||2004–2007||32||11||10||11||34.38||34.38|
|Worthington, NigelNigel Worthington||2007–2011||41||9||10||22||21.95||53.66|
|O'Neill, MichaelMichael O'Neill||2012–present||17||1||7||9||5.88||52.94|
Current coaching staff
- Manager: Michael O'Neill
- Assistant Manager: Billy McKinlay
- Goalkeeping coach: Tommy Wright
- Physio: vacant
- Team Attendant: vacant
Sky Sports currently have the rights to show all of Northern Ireland's international fixtures. For many years the games were shown live on BBC Northern Ireland, until the rights to home games were sold to Sky in 2007. In May 2013, Sky acquired the rights to all Northern Ireland qualifying games for UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
- The last match played as Ireland was 1978 versus Scotland, however, apart from this match, all British Championship matches had been played as "Northern Ireland" since the 1973-74 tournament. In the 1972-73 tournament, the first two matches were played as "Ireland" and the third as "Northern Ireland". In the 1971-72 tournament, the first was played as "Ireland" and the second and third as "Northern Ireland". 1970-71 was the last tournament in which all matches were played under the name "Ireland".
- Ireland v Scotland programme
- Match programmes 1972-75
- Northern Ireland programmes 1968-72
- Whiteside, Norman (2007). Determined. Headline Publishing Group. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7553-1598-7.
- Whiteside, Norman (2007). Determined. Headline Publishing Group. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-7553-1598-7.
- "IFA wants out of Windsor contract". BBC News. 17 July 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "Lord's Hansard on the question of building an NI national stadium".
- "Tide Turns Against The Maze".
- Report slams Windsor Park safety BBC News
- IFA wants out of Windsor contract BBC News
- South Stand future under threat BBC News
- Plans for £128m Belfast stadium unveiled – The Independent, 25/03/09
- IFA 'backs Windsor as NI stadium' – BBC News, 07/09/09
- Linfield FC has £20m stadium plan – BBC News, 12/06/09
- Stadiums fit for our heroes on way at last – Belfast Telegraph, 11/03/11
- Brian McNally (2010-03-05). "Why Northern Ireland continue to pay the price for abuse dished out to Neil Lennon". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Anger at sectarian songs after NI game". UTV News. UTV. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Horne, John. "Racism, sectarianism and football in Scotlandaccessdate=18 October 2012".
- Tim Rich (2002-08-23). "Death threat forces Lennon to place family feelings first". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "BBC News Star helps in graffiti removal". 30 October 2003. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- "Lennon hails anti-sectarian drive". BBC News. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- "PRAISE FOR IFA'S FOOTBALL FOR ALL AWARDS NIGHT".
- "Northern Ireland Fans Are Officially The Best In Europe". Irishfa.com. 2006-08-24. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- "Holding pen plan is dismissed by Northern Ireland supporters’ group". Belfast Telegraph. 2011-02-21. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Ballymena's Denver Gage faces sectarian songs probe". BBC. 2011-02-19. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Irish FA to ban Northern Ireland fan after chants". BBC News. 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Caral Ni Chuilin attends NI game at Windsor Park". BBC News. 11 August 2011.
- "BBC news story on NI ticket sales". BBC News. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- "Football: George Best: Football's first icon". The Guardian (London). 27 November 2005.
- "Historical Results - Fixtures And Results - International - The Irish Football Association". Irishfa.com. 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- Irish Football Association (2009). Official Souvenir Programme: Northern Ireland vs Serbia. Belfast:Irish Football Association
- Jackson, Lyle (2009-11-14). "BBC:''Northern Ireland 0–1 Serbia''". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
- Friendlies - Turkey vs Northern Ireland
- Cyprus 0-0 Northern Ireland, BBC Sport.
- Uruguay name Northern Ireland as World Cup warm-up opponents, BBC.
- Northern Ireland to play Chile, IFA.
- "Spain face Ukraine return in EURO 2016 qualifying". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- "UEFA EURO 2016 regulations published". UEFA.com. 18 December 2013.
- "NI SQUAD NAMED". Irish FA. 5 November 2013.
- "Northern Ireland's greatest ever football team".
- "Sky TV deal to net IFA over £10m". BBC Sport. BBC. 27 April 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Beacom, Steven (15 May 2013). "Northern Ireland fans can reach for the Sky again with new TV deal". Belfast Telegraph (INM). Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Irish Football Association – Northern Ireland Football official site
- Northern Ireland Stats & Statistics
- RSSSF archive of international results 1882–
- RSSSF archive of most capped players and highest goalscorers
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