History of the England national football team

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The history of the England national football team begins with the first ever international football match in 1870. They have won one World Cup, in 1966 on home soil, and qualified fourteen times for the tournament onwards from 1950. England staged Euro 1996 (European Championship). However, the team has never made it to the final of the competition; their best performances being a semi final in Euro 1968 and Euro 1996.

Early years[edit]


England's first ever international representative matches were arranged by influential sports' administrator CW Alcock under the auspices of the Football Association. The first five friendly matches, which all took place at The Oval, London, were played against Scotland between 1870 and 1872. However, these are not considered full internationals by FIFA because the Scotland teams were composed entirely of London-based Scottish players.[1]

England v Scotland 1870 - 1872
Match Date Venue Score Winner
England v Scotland (1870) 5 March 1870 The Oval, London 1–1 Draw
19 November 1870 The Oval, London 1–0 England
England v Scotland (1871) 25 February 1871 The Oval, London 1–1 Draw
17 November 1871 The Oval, London 2–1 England
England v Scotland (1872) 24 February 1872 The Oval, London 1–0 England

England's first FIFA recognised international football match was a 0–0 draw against Scotland at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Glasgow, on 30 November 1872.[2] In this game, Scotland was represented by players from Glasgow's Queens Park F.C.. The first "official" English team was:

Robert Barker (Hertfordshire Rangers), goal; Harwood Greenhalgh (Notts Club), three-quarter back; R. C. Welch (Harrow Chequers), half back; F. Chappell (Oxford University), fly-kick; capt. Cuthbert Ottaway (Oxford University), middle; Charles Chenery (Crystal Palace), middle; Charles Clegg (Sheffield), middle; Arnold Kirke-Smith (Oxford University), middle; J. Brockbank (Oxford University) right side; W. J. Maynard (1st Surrey Rifles) left side; J. F. Morris (Barnes Club) left side.

The following year, England beat Scotland 4–2 at the Kennington Oval. But in 1878, a resurgent Scotland thrashed England 7–2 at Hampden Park in Glasgow.[3] The record defeat stood for 77 years, until England beat Scotland 7–2 at Wembley Stadium during the 1955 British Home Championships.


Over the next 40 years, England played mostly Scotland, Wales and (what was then) Ireland. This was partly due to the dominance of the United Kingdom in international football, and the problems of arranging continental internationals before the advent of air travel. England faced its first continental opposition in a tour of Central Europe in 1908. The English team beat Austria, Hungary and Bohemia. England's first defeat outside the British Isles was a 4–3 loss to Spain in Madrid in 1929.

Although the FA had joined FIFA in 1906, the relationship with the British associations was fraught. In 1928, the British nations withdrew from FIFA, in a dispute over payments to amateur players. This meant that England did not enter the first three World Cups. However, they did defeat 1934 World Cup winners Italy 3–2, in the "Battle of Highbury" in November 1934.

On 1 December 1937, Stanley Matthews scored a hat-trick in England's 5–4 victory over Czechoslovakia. The England team also included Vic Woodley, Wilf Copping, Stan Cullis, Len Goulden, Willie Hall, John Morton and Bert Sproston.

In May 1938, England toured Europe. The first match was against Germany in Berlin. Adolf Hitler wanted the game to be a showcase for Nazi propaganda. While the England players were getting changed, a Football Association official went into their dressing-room, and told them that they had to make the Nazi salute during the playing of the German national anthem. Stanley Matthews later recalled:

The FA official left, but returned saying he had a direct order from British Ambassador Sir Neville Henderson that the players must make the salute, because the political situation between Britain and Germany was now so sensitive it needed "only a spark to set Europe alight". Reluctantly the England team raised their right arms,[4] except for Stan Cullis who refused, and was subsequently dropped from the squad.[5]

The game was watched by 110,000 people as well as senior Nazis, including Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels. England won the game 6–3. The game included a goal scored by Len Goulden that Stanley Matthews described as "the greatest goal I ever saw in football". According to Matthews:

On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Three days later, Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany. The government immediately imposed a ban on the assembly of crowds resulting in the end of all league football matches apart from some unofficial wartime internationals played between 11 November 1939 and 5 May 1945, for which the largest crowd was 133,000 on 24 April 1944 and again on 14 April 1945 both at Hampden Park.[6]

Post-war era[edit]

1950 and 1954 World Cups[edit]

Between 27 May 1945 and 19 May 1946, England played seven unofficial victory internationals, an unofficial international match against Scotland on 24 August 1946 (2–2), and unofficial internationals against Switzerland and Switzerland 'B'.[6][7] The FA rejoined FIFA in 1946, the same year they appointed the first dedicated team manager, Walter Winterbottom (although the team was picked by a committee). In 1948, England gained two notable victories, a 4–0 victory over the reigning world champions Italy in Turin, and 10–0 victory over an undefeated Portugal in Lisbon, after which the players involved famously became known as the "lions of Lisbon".[8]

England, however, then lost their first match at home, to non-British opposition when they were defeated 0–2 by the Republic of Ireland in 1949 at Goodison Park, Liverpool. England's World Cup debut came in 1950; however, they suffered an infamous 1–0 defeat by the United States, and failed to get beyond the first group stage after losing their final game against Spain. Billy Wright was selected to be the first scape goat of England being eliminated from the World Cup finals.[9]

England's tactical inferiority was highlighted on 25 November 1953, when Hungary came to visit Wembley Stadium. One of the then best sides in the world and fielding legendary players such as Ferenc Puskás, József Bozsik, Sándor Kocsis, Zoltán Czibor and Nándor Hidegkuti, Hungary outclassed the English 6–3 – this was England's first ever home loss to continental opposition. In the return match in Budapest, Hungary won 7–1, which still stands as England's worst ever defeat. Ivor Broadis scored the England goal. After the game, bewildered England centre-half Syd Owen said, "It was like playing people from outer space."[10]

In the 1954 World Cup, two goals by Broadis saw him become the first England player to score two goals in a game at the World Cup finals. Broadis beat Nat Lofthouse by 30 minutes when both scored two each in the thrilling 4–4 draw against Belgium. In reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, England lost 4–2, being eliminated by Uruguay. Only twice have England progressed beyond the World Cup quarter-finals away from home.[10]

Munich disaster and the 1958 World Cup[edit]

On 15 May 1957, Stanley Matthews became the oldest player ever to represent his country. On his last appearance for England, in a 4–1 defeat by Denmark in Copenhagen, he was 42 years and 104 days old.[11]

Hopes of success at the 1958 finals were hit by the Munich air disaster in February that year, which claimed the lives of eight Manchester United players. Three of the players who died were established England internationals. They were full-back Roger Byrne, who had never missed an England game since making his senior début for the country in 1954, centre-forward Tommy Taylor, who had scored 16 goals in just 19 appearances for his country, and wing-half Duncan Edwards, who was then widely regarded as the finest player in English football.

Also killed was David Pegg, who had just made his senior debut for England and was tipped by many as the successor in the national team to ageing legend Tom Finney, who retired from international action in 1958. Two other players to die in the crash, centre-half Mark Jones and wing-half Eddie Colman, had also been widely tipped to be capped by England. Winger Johnny Berry, who had been capped four times for England, survived the crash but was injured to such an extent that he never played football again.

Forward Bobby Charlton, who was injured in the crash, recovered sufficiently to make his England début in April that year and begin one of the great England international careers (which would eventually yield 106 caps, an all-time record 49 goals and a World Cup winner's medal). He was named in the squad which travelled to Sweden for the finals, but did not kick a ball as England exited in the group stages after a play-off defeat against the Soviet Union, a game deemed necessary after the two finished entirely equal in second spot of their group. England's inside forward Johnny Haynes remarked after elimination in 1958, "Everyone in England thinks we have a God given right to win the World Cup." Joe Mears as chief selector became the scapegoat.[9]

All the signs pointed to how far English football had fallen behind the rest of the world, including a devastating 1–0 loss to the Americans in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. Although by the end of the 1950s, emerging talents such as prolific goalscorer Jimmy Greaves suggested that sufficiently talented players were available, provided the tactical and coaching side of the game could bring the best out of them.


World Champions[edit]

By the 1960s, English tactics and training started to improve, and England turned in a respectable performance in the 1962 World Cup, losing in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Brazil. By now, more young players were making their mark, including elegant young defender Bobby Moore. Indeed, the squad taken by England to Chile was the youngest, on average, ever taken to a major tournament, with no player over the age of 29. The oldest featured player was the 28-year-old Maurice Norman. After Winterbottom retired in 1962, former captain Alf Ramsey was appointed and crucially won the right to choose the squad and team himself, taking that role away from the selection committee. Ramsey boldly predicted that England would win the following tournament, which England were hosting.

Ramsey's prediction came true,[9] and the 1966 World Cup on home soil was England's finest moment. An unremarkable group phase saw England win two and draw one of their games, with a 30-yard strike by Bobby Charlton at Wembley in London against Mexico proving a highlight. All of England's games were played at Wembley, which was (and still is) the England national team's home stadium. An injury to centre forward Jimmy Greaves in the final group match against France prompted Ramsey into a re-think for the quarter final against Argentina, and inexperienced replacement Geoff Hurst responded by scoring the only goal of the game. Charlton then hit both goals in a 2-1 semi-final win over Portugal (a game that was originally supposed to be played at Liverpool's Goodison Park) and England had reached the final, where they would meet West Germany. By now, Greaves was fit again, but Ramsey kept faith with Hurst, despite calls from the media for the main goalscorer to return.[12]

England's "Wingless Wonders" (a phrase coined by the press after Ramsey devised a new 4–3–3 system which relied on stamina-based midfield players rather than natural wingers) won the final 4–2 after extra time, with three goals from Hurst and one from Martin Peters. Hurst's second goal became the most talked-about and controversial in England football history, with West Germany's players protesting, to this day, that the ball from Hurst's shot did not fully cross the goal-line after bouncing down from the crossbar. Numerous attempts to decide the matter once and for all have not been fully conclusive, although the sporting consensus suggests that England were fortunate to be awarded a goal.

In 1995, researchers from Oxford University announced the results of computer video analysis of the television footage, which gave new angles of view: they concluded that the shot had not crossed the line. Bobby Moore became the first and, to date, only England captain to lift the World Cup.

The game prompted an unwitting piece of flawless and immortal broadcasting from the BBC's Kenneth Wolstenholme when describing the last-ditch run and shot from Hurst which led to his third goal - "And here comes Hurst, he's got ... (notices spectators on the field) ... some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over! (Hurst shoots and scores) It is now!" Wolstenholme's words became as much part of the folklore from the 1966 World Cup as England's victory. Hurst has stated that, being the last minute of extra time with England 3-2 up, he was merely trying to put the ball into the stand to kill the last few seconds, however his shot ended up in the back of the German net[citation needed].

At Euro 1968, England lost to Yugoslavia in the semi-final, 1–0, in the 87th minute. Alan Mullery became the first player to be sent off while playing for England.

In Mexico, for the 1970 World Cup, many observers[who?] considered that England had a stronger squad and team than in 1966. The world-class nucleus of Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks was still intact; Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Alan Ball in the interim had further enhanced their reputations and they had been supplemented with the likes of Terry Cooper, Alan Mullery and emerging talents such as Colin Bell and Allan Clarke.

England's preparations in Colombia were disrupted, when Bobby Moore was arrested in the Bogotá Bracelet incident, before he was given a conditional release. Despite the intense tropical heat and humidity, eating the same poor quality food for weeks on end, avoiding the sewage-filled water/ice and high altitude conditions (all of these conditions were somewhat alien for the English team), England progressed with some ease to the quarter-finals, despite a 1–0 defeat by the favourites Brazil in their group, which was most notable for a stunning save from Pelé by goalkeeper Gordon Banks and arguably captain Bobby Moore's finest performance in an England shirt. Both were expected to meet again in the final some weeks hence.

In the quarter-final match, at the Estadio Nou Camp in León, they came up against their foes from the 1966 final, West Germany. However, before the match, disaster struck the team when goalkeeper Gordon Banks was stricken with food-poisoning- his late replacement was the talented, but internationally inexperienced Peter Bonetti, who had not played a competitive match for over a month. England coasted into a 2–0 lead just after half-time with goals from Mullery and Peters, but the Germans fought back to 2–2 through Franz Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler, both goals having a touch of fortune about them. Geoff Hurst had a legitimate goal disallowed,[13] and with eleven minutes remaining in extra time, Gerd Müller scored the winner.

Some blame was attached to Bonetti, as well as some ill-advised tactical moves by Ramsey (such as the substitution of Bobby Charlton instead of the tiring Cooper) and the oppressive heat and altitude in Mexico but ultimately the culpability for defeat was shared by the whole team. Charlton broke Billy Wright's record for England caps in this game but told Ramsey on the flight home from Mexico that he no longer wished to be considered.

When his team were knocked out in 1970, Ramsay was stunned, and said, "We must now look ahead to the next World Cup in Munich where our chances of winning I would say are very good indeed."[9] Bonetti became this tournament's scapegoat and spent the rest of his career enduring chants of "You lost the World Cup".[citation needed]


West German and Polish defeats 1972–1974[edit]

England failed to reach the final stages of Euro 1972 thanks again to West Germany. The crucial two-legged qualifier resulted in a 3–1 win for the Germans at Wembley and a goalless draw in Berlin. In the first of these games, 1966 hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst made his final England appearance. Attention then turned to qualification for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. This was a new experience for Ramsey, as England had not needed to qualify since the 1962 competition, due to the automatic qualification given to them as hosts in 1966, and holders in 1970.

On paper they were given a comfortable draw, in a three-team group with Wales and Olympic champions Poland.

After a victory, and a draw with Wales, England went to Poland next, the Poles having lost their first match in Cardiff. The match was a disaster for England, who went a goal down from a free kick seven minutes into the game to a sloppy defensive error by Bobby Moore and goalkeeper Peter Shilton. This was compounded two minutes into the second half when Moore allowed Włodzimierz Lubański to dispossess him, and make it 2–0. To make matters worse, with less than a quarter of an hour to go, Alan Ball became the second player to be sent off while playing for England which would rule him out of the return in four months time.

Three months later, Poland easily disposed of the Welsh, 3–0 in Chorzów, so this meant that only a victory at Wembley against the Poles would be good enough for England to qualify. The match has passed into folklore as England, from beginning to end, created chance after chance but failed to score. England's inability to find the net was largely down to Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski. Twelve minutes into the second half, Norman Hunter – in the team for Bobby Moore, who was about to see his international career end with a record 108 caps, made a costly mistake.

Running towards a ball by the touch-line near halfway, he made to control the ball, but Grzegorz Lato intercepted, raced away and squared the ball for Jan Domarski whose shot squirmed under Peter Shilton's body. Although Allan Clarke equalised from the penalty spot six minutes later and chances continued to rain down on the Polish goal, the score remained 1–1. Although at the time the result was seen as a poor one, the Poles went on to prove themselves to be a very good team, finishing third in the following summer's World Cup. In the aftermath of this failure however, the FA sacked Ramsey in the spring of 1974, after eleven years at the helm.

Revie years, 1974–1976[edit]

After a brief period where Joe Mercer was caretaker manager of the side, the FA appointed Don Revie as Ramsey's permanent successor. But Revie fared worse than Ramsey, as England failed to qualify from the group stages of the Euro 1976, despite an opening 3–0 win at home over eventual champions Czechoslovakia and also a 5–0 win over Cyprus in which Malcolm Macdonald scored all five of England's goals, a post-war record.

Ultimately, it was a defeat in the return in Czechoslovakia, and a 0–0 draw at home against Portugal that cost England, as they fell a point short of qualification. Revie's methods and habits were criticised, insisting on increasing players' appearance fees when no player had expressed dissatisfaction, calling up oversized squads, dropping or ignoring inform players, the use of dossiers on the opposition and his attempts to cultivate a "club" atmosphere with the players which had worked among his squads as a domestic manager, and Revie's position as manager was continually undermined by the chairman of the English FA Harold Thompson, who Ted Croker commented seemed bent on 'humiliating' Revie.[14]

Revie selected a squad to take part in a mini-tournament in South America in the summer of 1976, but initially did not accompany the players, saying he was going to scout the opposition England were still due to face, in the ultimately unsuccessful bid to qualify for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. In fact, he was putting the final seal on a lucrative deal to take charge of the national side of the United Arab Emirates. After his resignation, he was punished by the FA and banned from working in English football for a decade, and although he overturned the ban on appeal, his reputation was ruined, and he never worked in English football again.

After the departure of Revie, Brian Clough applied for the post, but the FA rejected him, and instead gave the role to Ron Greenwood, who was brought out of retirement to act as caretaker after Revie's exit. He was unable to rescue England's campaign to reach the 1978 World Cup, the damage had been done in a 2–0 defeat by Italy in the Stadio Olimpico, Rome, in November 1976 during Revie's era. Though level with Italy on points, England missed out on qualification on goal difference (had they scored three goals more, they would have made the finals). Failure to beat relatively weak teams more comprehensively, had again cost England dearly. Italy though, were a very good team, and would finish fourth at the 1978 World Cup.


1982 World Cup[edit]

Greenwood did, however, take England to their first major tournament in a decade when qualification for Euro 1980 in Italy was secured reasonably comfortably. During the qualification campaign, England also played a friendly match against Czechoslovakia, in which Viv Anderson became the first black player to win an England cap. England were unspectacular at the finals, and did not progress beyond their group. At the same time, the team were attracting an ever-growing hooligan element in their support, especially at matches abroad, and against Belgium, Italian police were forced to deploy tear gas.

Greenwood had begun to plan England's future upon taking the job, and the likes of Bryan Robson, Kenny Sansom, Terry Butcher and Glenn Hoddle were already fully fledged internationals as England turned their attention to qualifying for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. The campaign was long with England unable to put a reasonable run of victories together, at one point, Greenwood was all set to resign after one disappointing qualifying result, but was persuaded to stay on by his players during the flight home, but eventually England benefitted from other results and qualified in the final game with a 1–0 win over Hungary at Wembley.

At the finals, England won all three of their group games, and Robson scored the fastest goal at a World Cup finals, when he netted 27 seconds into the opening match against France (this record has since been broken [15]). England went into the second-round pool but were eliminated, despite ultimately remaining unbeaten in five matches. Greenwood announced his immediate retirement. This was also another tournament marred by violence, a problem which would continue through the rest of the decade, when England went overseas.

Robson revival, 1982–1990[edit]

Although at the time he was widely derided by the press, Bobby Robson is now looked upon[by whom?] as one of England's more successful managers. He started badly on a public relations front by not telling captain Kevin Keegan that he would not be calling him into his first squad. Keegan heard the news via the media, aired his disgust and retired from the international game.

On the pitch, Robson's England failed to make the final stages of Euro 1984, their hopes of qualification effectively ended in the autumn of 1983 when they lost to Denmark to a controversially-given penalty at Wembley. Robson resisted calls to quit and the Football Association kept faith in him. At the time, the England team was in a period of transition, with experienced players like Mick Mills, Phil Neal, Paul Mariner, Trevor Brooking and Trevor Francis had either retired or were approaching the end of their careers. However, an impressive set of younger players were breaking into the national side, including striker Gary Lineker, winger Trevor Steven and midfielder Chris Waddle. This new-look England side sealed qualification for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. A month before the tournament had started, the team had gone to America to train in high altitude conditions in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And before setting off for Monterrey, the England side then went to the Mediterranean climate of Los Angeles to play tournament hosts Mexico in a friendly, a game which England won 3-0 at the massive Memorial Coliseum in the Southern California city.

England, having to play in conditions that were foreign to the team had a poor start in group stages played in the intense 95°F+ (35°C) heat and humidity of Monterrey, losing to Portugal, and then drawing with Morocco in a game which saw Ray Wilkins become the first England player to be sent off at a World Cup and captain Bryan Robson helped from the field in agony, not to return again in the competition, after dislocating his shoulder (a recurrence of an injury sustained after colliding with a sprinkler on the side of the pitch during a Manchester United game). Pressure mounted on England to rescue themselves with a win over Poland, and Gary Lineker's first-half hat-trick did just that.

In the second round, England defeated Paraguay in the high altitude of Mexico City's Azteca Stadium 3–0, thanks largely to two more goals from Lineker, but were to fall short in controversial circumstances against the eventual winners Argentina in the quarter finals, again at the Azteca thanks to two very different but equally memorable goals from Diego Maradona – the infamous "Hand of God" goal, where Maradona punched the ball into the net, and then the second after a 50-yard dribble past five England players, that is widely regarded as one of the finest goals in history, and is often called the Goal of the Century. Lineker then pulled a goal back, but England were unable to find an equaliser and went out. But Lineker still won the Golden Boot, as the tournament's top scorer with six goals, and was then on his way to Barcelona from Everton in a deal worth nearly £3 million.

England suffered a setback two years later at Euro 1988 in West Germany. They qualified comfortably for the tournament, but then and lost all of their group games at the finals. These defeats included a 1–0 defeat in Stuttgart by the Republic of Ireland, managed by 1966 England hero Jack Charlton. The Republic had never qualified for a major competition before.

The tournament also marked the final England appearances of Glenn Hoddle and Kenny Sansom after lengthy careers in the England side. England's performance sparked public and media criticism of Robson, who offered his resignation, but it was rejected and he stayed in charge as England look to qualify for the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Qualification was sealed without conceding a single goal in the qualifying stages.

The 1990 World Cup in Italy was to be Robson's last tournament in charge, having decided before it began that he would not be extending his contract, and would be returning to club football with PSV. The competition turned out to be England's best since 1966; after a slow start in the group stage where they played all their group stage matches in the city of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia (at the British government's request), England managed narrow wins after extra-time over Belgium in Bologna and Cameroon in Naples during the team's first 2 knockout round matches, before being beaten in Turin on penalties by West Germany (the eventual winners of the tournament) in the semi-finals after drawing 1–1, with Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failing from the spot.[16]

England lost the third place play-off 2–1 to Italy in Bari, and so finished fourth. However, the team's good performance (the tournament marked the only time England have progressed beyond the World Cup quarter finals away from home),[9] the relative lack of violence, winning the Fair Play Award and the emergence of Paul Gascoigne: England's player of the tournament, who famously cried after being booked against West Germany (which would have ruled him out of the final had England won) were all factors in the rehabilitation of football into British society in the 1990s, as well as the reinstatement of English clubs into European club competition in the 1990–91 season after a five-year ban following the Heysel disaster.

Another star who emerged was David Platt, a midfielder who went as back-up to Bryan Robson, and came back with three goals and an international reputation. It eventually earned him a number of big-money moves around Italian clubs. After this World Cup, Shilton retired from international football with 125 caps, at that time a record.


Graham Taylor: "Best we forget"[edit]

Robson's successor, Graham Taylor, failed to build on the team that fared well in 1990, instead discarding older players like Bryan Robson and Chris Waddle (in the form of his life at Marseille). While England qualified for Euro 1992 in Sweden, they crashed out in the group stage with no wins and only a single goal.

Taylor was also widely criticised for taking off Gary Lineker in what turned out to be his final England appearance, when England needed a goal, and Lineker himself needed to score just one more goal to equal Bobby Charlton's record of 49 goals for the national team. Taylor was vilified by the press, leading The Sun to begin their infamous 'turnip' campaign. England also hit another low under Taylor's reign when they lost 2-0 to the United States in Boston during the 1993 U.S. Cup.

England failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States after suffering two away defeats to Norway in Oslo and then the Netherlands in Rotterdam. The latter game was one in which defender Ronald Koeman escaped being sent off after fouling David Platt in the Dutch penalty box before Platt nearly scored a goal that would have put England in the lead- Taylor's irate reaction was broadcast to millions as part of the documentary An Impossible Job. England lost 2-0, after Koeman scored shortly afterwards followed by another goal by Dennis Bergkamp. In their final qualifying match, England infamously went 1–0 down to tiny San Marino after just eight seconds, the fastest World Cup goal of all time, before recovering to win 7–1. This was of little use, though, as he Netherlands also won their final qualifying game and joined Norway in the World Cup.

Taylor resigned the following week. His reign is regarded as one of the bleakest in England's history; in the FA's official history of the England team, the chapter on Taylor's tenure is entitled "Best we forget".[17] A huge list of candidates were touted to replace him, including Steve Coppell, Dave Bassett, Gerry Francis and John Lyall. On 28 January 1994, however, Terry Venables, who had left Tottenham Hotspur in acrimonious circumstances the previous year, was appointed.

Venables: Euro 1996: Football comes home again[edit]

Venables oversaw a much improved performance at Euro 1996. The tournament was held in England, which in some respects was an advantage, since the team did not have to go through a qualifying campaign, but it also hindered Venables in a way, since it was obvious that the team needed a total rebuild, after the World Cup qualifying disaster. It also could only test out potential new players in friendlies (which Premier League managers were notoriously reluctant to release any key players for).

The tournament also marked the 30th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup victory, so fans' expectations were high as the tournament began, with Venables deploying emerging younger stars such as Steve McManaman, Darren Anderton and Gary Neville alongside established mainstays of previous campaigns, including Paul Gascoigne, Stuart Pearce, David Platt and Tony Adams, a player featuring in his first tournament since the debacle of Euro 1988.

The organizers ensured England would play all their matches at Wembley in West London, and after famous victories over Scotland, a 2–0 win featuring a crucial David Seaman penalty save and a brilliant Gascoigne goal, and the Netherlands by 4–1, and a rare penalty shoot-out win over Spain, England fans were subjected to déjà vu as their side lost a semi-final on penalties to Germany again after drawing 1–1. Gareth Southgate missed the vital penalty this time. His penalty being saved by goalkeeper Andreas Köpke. Alan Shearer, who had taken over from Lineker as England's core centre forward, emerged from the tournament as its top scorer with five goals.

Due to tension between himself and the FA, over the extension of his contract after the tournament, Venables announced in January 1996 that he would step down after the European Championships [6], although it became widely and inaccurately reported that Venables was told by the FA he would not be employed further. This was because of ongoing worries, about his business interests.


On 2 May 1996, Glenn Hoddle was named as the new England manager, eight years after his final international appearance, and one year after his last game at club level. Hoddle selected Alan Shearer as captain, replacing Tony Adams, but also brought a number of emerging talents into the squad, including the Manchester United midfield trio of Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and David Beckham, and central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell.

Hoddle oversaw England's qualification for the 1998 World Cup (the first World Cup with 32 teams instead of 24) with a 0–0 draw against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, and drew out a winning performance in the Tournoi de France, a friendly tournament held before the World Cup against competition hosts France, Brazil and Italy.

After this promising build-up, however, Hoddle came under fire for omitting fans' favourite and arguably England's most talented player of the era, Paul Gascoigne and Southampton player Matt Le Tissier from the squad for the finals, ultimately bringing their international playing careers to an end. England were eventually knocked out of the World Cup on penalties, this time in the last 16 to Argentina, although the game itself had been galvanised by a wonder goal from 18-year-old striker Michael Owen, who had first been capped four months earlier. England should have progressed to the Quarter Finals however, as Sol Campbell had a goal wrongly disallowed.

Glenn Hoddle revealed only after his team had been knocked out "my innermost thought, which was that England would win the World Cup".[9] Beckham was scapegoated for the defeat of 1998 only because he got himself sent off after 46 minutes for an altercation with Diego Simeone. He took so much abuse, he recalled later, that "I've got a little book in which I've written down the names of those people who upset me the most. I don't want to name them because I want it to be a surprise when I get them back."[9]

Hoddle's reign itself was riddled with ridicule over his religious convictions and insistence on employing a faith healer as part of the set-up.[citation needed] Things were made worse because the side's results did not seem to justify his unorthodox methods.[citation needed] In addition to the underwhelming performance at the World Cup, England suffered a poor start to the Euro 2000 qualifying tournament, and there was reported discontent between Hoddle and several senior players, most notably Shearer. Hoddle was dismissed on 2 February 1999, two days after an interview with The Sunday Times in which he spoke about his belief in reincarnation and claimed that disabled people were paying for sins in a previous life.

Keegan: 1999–2000: "A little bit short."[edit]

Under considerable media and public pressure, the FA appointed former captain Kevin Keegan, who only just managed to get England into Euro 2000 after a 2–1 aggregate playoff win over Scotland. At the finals in Belgium and the Netherlands, a lacklustre England failed to get beyond the group stage, losing to both Portugal and Romania after leading in each game. After England's exit, Alan Shearer retired from international football, he had announced his intentions before the tournament, and no-one could persuade him to change his mind.

On 7 October 2000, shortly after losing the opening World Cup qualifier to Germany in the last-ever game at Wembley before its redevelopment, Keegan himself resigned, citing that he was "a little bit short" [7] tactically at international level. The FA's chief executive of the time, Adam Crozier, reluctantly accepted Keegan's resignation in the Wembley tunnel's lavatory and before leaving the stadium, had telephoned the agent of Sven-Göran Eriksson to talk about the vacancy.

The fateful defeat against Germany was also the last game that Tony Adams played for England, after a career stretching back to 1987. He confirmed his retirement from international football in February 2001, deciding to concentrate on his remaining time as a player with Arsenal. While a deal with Eriksson was set up, Howard Wilkinson was hastily appointed manager for a subsequent qualifier with Finland, which ended in a draw. A month later, it was confirmed that Eriksson would be Keegan's permanent successor, but would not take up the job until June 2001, because of his commitment to Lazio.

Former England under-21 manager Peter Taylor was appointed caretaker manager for a subsequent friendly match with Italy, and it was widely expected that Taylor would act as temporary manager, until Eriksson formally took over, though this was itself problematic given Taylor's own commitment to Leicester City. The matter was rendered moot, when Eriksson resigned from Lazio shortly after the turn of the year, allowing him to take over before England had to play another match.


Eriksson era, 2001–2006: Three Quarter Finals[edit]

In January 2001, Eriksson was duly appointed as Keegan's successor, and as a Swedish national, he became the first foreign national to manage England. This decision attracted huge controversy,[citation needed] but the critics were quickly silenced as Eriksson immediately turned around the team's campaign to qualify for the 2002 World Cup with a 5–1 victory over Germany in Munich, where England came from behind with goals from Emile Heskey, Steven Gerrard and a Michael Owen hat-trick. England ensured qualification after a tense final game against Greece; David Beckham scored from a free-kick in the last seconds of the game to make the score 2–2, and put England top of their group on goal difference.

The month before the finals, Eriksson declared, "I think we will win it".[9] In the finals in South Korea/Japan, England beat Argentina 1–0 in the group stage, with David Beckham scoring the only goal with a penalty as he exorcised the ghosts of his red card four years earlier, and reached the quarter-finals, where they met the tournament's eventual winners Brazil. England went in front, when Owen took advantage of a Brazilian defensive mistake, but an equaliser from Rivaldo and a 35-metre free kick by Ronaldinho saw Brazil turn the game round to win 2–1. England could not create any more good chances, despite Ronaldinho later being sent off, and were eliminated.

However, they had reached the last eight of the World Cup for the first time since 1990, and even in defeat they had lost to the team who went on to win the competition (without losing or drawing a game and scoring 18 goals on the way) for the fifth time in 44 years.

For Euro 2004, England came top of their qualification group. During the campaign, teenage striker Wayne Rooney was installed as a new star in England's attack, with much expected of him for the finals. His emergence was tempered by the loss of defender Rio Ferdinand, who was given a controversial eight-month ban from football in December 2003 after missing a drugs test. This meant he was unable to play in the tournament. In England's match against France, Frank Lampard scored a first-half goal and England looked as if they would win the match, however France scored twice within the last three minutes of the game.

Had David Beckham not missed a penalty, England would have entered the knock-out stage (and, then, have left the tournament) undefeated. England progressed with Rooney scoring in games against Switzerland and Croatia. Although favoured to do well in the quarter-finals, England's challenge was greatly affected early in the game, when Rooney suffered a broken metatarsal in his foot. Sol Campbell scored a goal which was disallowed and England eventually lost in another penalty shootout to Portugal, after a 2–2 draw. Beckham and Darius Vassell missed their penalties. Michael Owen's goal during the game made him the first England player to score in four consecutive tournaments.

2005 saw Eriksson receive heavy criticism from fans, for his defensive strategies and alleged lack of passion, his lack of communication with the players from the bench, and a perceived inability to change tactics when necessary in a game, as witnessed against Brazil in 2002. A 4–1 loss to Denmark in a friendly, was followed by a humiliating 1–0 defeat by Northern Ireland in a 2006 World Cup qualifier, David Healy scoring the goal in the 73rd minute which, despite a previously excellent qualifying record, led to further criticism.

An unconvincing 1–0 victory over Austria did nothing to relieve the pressure. However, despite these criticisms, England qualified for the World Cup finals with one match to spare, and travelled to Germany as group winners, following a 2–1 victory, and a much improved performance against Poland. In January 2006, following revelations made in the News of the World, the FA decided to come to an agreement with Eriksson over his future. On 23 January 2006, it was announced that Eriksson was to stand down after the 2006 World Cup finals.

A number of possible successors were linked with the job; after a series of interviews that was widely criticised for its length, Portugal national team manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was allegedly offered the job. In April 2006, however, declined, due to the belief that accepting the offer before a World Cup, would conflict with his managerial duties for Portugal.[18] The FA also visited New York City in order to hold talks with Bruce Arena. On 4 May 2006, it was announced that Steve McClaren would succeed Eriksson after the World Cup. His first game in charge would be against Greece at Old Trafford on 16 August.

England: 2006's FIFA World Cup

England's 2006 World Cup campaign saw them drawn in Group B alongside Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden. Their opening match of the tournament was against Paraguay in the Waldstadion in Frankfurt on 10 June 2006. The only goal of the game came after 2 minutes and 44 seconds, when a David Beckham free-kick was headed in by Paraguayan defender Carlos Gamarra.

The 1–0 win over Paraguay was followed by a 2–0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago on 15 June 2006 in the Frankenstadion in Nuremberg. The deadlock was only broken in the 84th minute when England took the lead with a Peter Crouch header, and this was followed by a Steven Gerrard strike in injury time. The win secured England's place in the last 16. It also saw the return as a substitute of Wayne Rooney, just six weeks after breaking a metatarsal bone in his foot.

England's final group match saw them play Sweden in Cologne. Rooney started the game, but his strike partner Michael Owen was stretchered off with a cruciate ligament injury after less than two minutes. England, however, still took a first half lead through a wonder strike from Joe Cole. Sweden equalised through Marcus Allbäck before Steven Gerrard gave England the lead again in the 86th minute.

England, however, were denied a first win over Sweden since 1968 when Henrik Larsson levelled again in the 90th minute. Sol Campbell's introduction as a substitute made him the first England player to feature in the final stages of six consecutive tournaments, beginning with Euro 1996.

England beat Ecuador in the last 16 on 25 June in Stuttgart, courtesy of a Beckham free-kick. Beckham duly became the first England player to score in three World Cup tournaments, having also found the net at the 1998 and 2002 competitions. The game also saw Rooney's full rehabilitation as he managed to play for the whole 90 minutes.

The quarter-final against Portugal on 1 July, ended 0–0 after extra time. David Beckham was substituted early in the second half with an ankle injury, and then Wayne Rooney was controversially sent off for pushing Cristiano Ronaldo and stamping on Ricardo Carvalho's groin [8] in a rough tackle, though Rooney later denied it was intentional.

The draw led to a penalty shoot-out that England lost 3–1, thus being eliminated from the tournament. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher all had their attempts saved by keeper Ricardo, with Owen Hargreaves, later to be named man of the match [9], the only England player to score his penalty kick. It continued England's woes in penalty shootouts at major championships as well as Sven-Göran Eriksson's poor head-to-head record against Luiz Felipe Scolari. Thus, continuing the streak that England seemed to never break. England had never won a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup up to this point.

On 2 July 2006, the morning after England's exit, a tearful Beckham announced that he was stepping down as captain, although he stressed that he was keen to continue playing for England. In his last press conference prior to the flight home, Eriksson said he only wished to be remembered for being "honest", and a coach who "tried my best".

After World Cup 2006, Owen Hargreaves was voted England's "Player of The Tournament" by fans on theFA.com. Hargreaves was an unpopular choice for the squad, prior to the competition. However, after the World Cup proved a turning point, going from unpopular to fan favourite.

McClaren Era, 2006–2007: Qualifying heartache[edit]

Steve McClaren was appointed England manager after the 2006 World Cup. He was not a popular choice with the media or fans, and most said it was a panic choice, and called the selection process of the new manager a shambles. He appointed Terry Venables as coach and John Terry as captain, and chose not to recall David Beckham to the squad following the World Cup for almost a year. He also dropped Sol Campbell and David James, leaving Gary Neville and from January 2007, his brother Phil Neville as the only players regularly involved in his first year in charge, who were over the age of 30.

England started their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign well, beating Andorra 5–0, and getting a hard fought 1–0 win over Macedonia away in Skopje. Results then took a turn, England drew 0–0 at home with Macedonia, and then suffering a 2–0 defeat away to Croatia where Gary Neville netted an Own Goal. The pressure on McClaren was already starting to build, and after a five-month break from qualifiers, England only managed a goalless draw away to Israel putting in another lackluster performance. This followed, to what some described as the worst match in England history, England played Andorra away and did win 3–0, but still it took them 60 minutes to break the deadlock, and in the first half England barely threatened the part timers. There was a huge chorus of boos going into half time.

England played their first match at the new Wembley Stadium against Brazil on 1 June 2007 – a game for which Beckham was recalled after 11 months in the international wilderness, and which heralded Michael Owen's return from his World Cup injury. In a qualifying game against Estonia five days later, Owen broke Gary Lineker's record for most goals in competitive internationals, which Lineker had held exclusively or jointly for 15 years.

The return to Wembley saw an upturn in form with England beating Israel, Russia and Estonia 3–0 each. After this, England played Russia away, a game which if they won they would qualify but lose, and qualification would not be in their hands. England put in a very good display, and took a first half lead through Wayne Rooney. But Russia went on to win 2–1. England were relying on Israel to beat Russia to be able to qualify, and they did, with an injury time winner.

All England had to do after this was get a draw against Croatia, whom had already qualified. McClaren had a weakened side out after injuries and suspensions to key players such as Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and John Terry and as a result, McClaren recalled players that were inexperienced and out of form, such as Micah Richards, Wayne Bridge, Joleon Lescott and also goalkeeper Scott Carson who was handed his competitive debut in goal and his mistake letting the ball go through his legs gave Croatia a 1–0 lead and shortly made it 2–0 but McClaren brought on David Beckham and this seemed to turn the game.

Frank Lampard firstly converted a penalty, and then Peter Crouch got onto the end of David Beckham's cross to equalise. And after the majority thought it was job done Croatia scored a third, and won the game 3–2, resulting in Russia qualifying and England missing out on their first major tournament since the 1994 World Cup.

The sight of a hapless and unemotional McClaren standing on the touchline in the rain during this match, became the most iconic image of his tenure, and he was labelled "The Wally with the Brolly" by the media.[19]

After the game, McClaren refused to resign as manager, but the next day, he and Terry Venables were sacked by the FA.

Capello Era, 2008–2012: Fell Short Again[edit]


After McClaren's failure to reach Euro 2008, the FA began a search for a new manager. On 14 December 2007, Fabio Capello, former manager of Milan, Real Madrid, Roma and Juventus, was named as the new manager of England, the second foreign manager to take the post. Like his predecessor, his first major decision upon selecting a squad was to omit David Beckham, leaving the former captain on 99 caps and prompting a media frenzy, about whether he would ever reach the 100 mark.

Capello's first match was a friendly international 2–1 win against Switzerland on 6 February 2008. The England team enjoyed more success under Capello, with six wins, two draws and two defeats out of ten friendlies, as of September 2009. On top of this, they won all of their first eight matches in their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign: for the first time, the team qualified for the World Cup with two qualifying games to spare.[20]


2010 FIFA World Cup: An Almighty Disaster[edit]

England headed to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa as favourites to comfortably progress through Group C, which included the United States, Algeria and Slovenia. The opening match against the United States started well with Steven Gerrard scoring after just four minutes of play. Late in the first half, however, Clint Dempsey equalised after a speculative shot was mishandled by England goalkeeper Robert Green; the game ended 1–1. England's second match against Algeria ended in a goalless draw that saw England being outplayed by an unfancied side, leading to the English press questioning Capello's tactics, as well as the team's spirit and ability to handle the pressure.

England rallied however, with a solid performance against Slovenia that ended in a 1–0 victory, thanks to a goal from Jermain Defoe. Due to the United States's last minute winner against Algeria, England finished as group runners up behind the United States, and were thus drawn against Group D winners Germany in the second round. In the subsequent game, an apparently valid England goal by Frank Lampard was disallowed as the Uruguayan linesman ruled it had not crossed the line. England ultimately lost 4–1 to the Germans, suffering their worst ever defeat in a World Cup finals match. Gary Neville said England lacked skill and strength in depth.[21]

Following England's dismal showing at the World Cup, their worst in 60 years and on the final FIFA tournament ranking, their worst ever, the nation turned against the team.[22][23]

Newspapers, media and fans all wanted Fabio Capello sacked after he refused to resign but the FA chose to keep him on. Four weeks before the World Cup, the FA had agreed to delete a clause from Capello's contract which would have allowed it to be terminated early, meaning that it would cost them £12 million to fire him.[24]

England's World Cup failure also hurt The FA financially, with Nationwide, Carlsberg and National Express all terminating their sponsorship deals with immediate effect. It left confectionery company Mars as the only official sponsor of team. National confidence in the team reached an all-time low.

Jamie Carragher and Emile Heskey both retired from international football and several other key figures from the squad were dropped from selection for a friendly match against Hungary on 11 August 2010. Nearly half the seats were empty at Wembley for the match but despite fears that the players would be verbally abused by the supporters throughout the game, that didn't materialise.

England put in another rather below-par performance, but still won 2–1. Minutes before kick-off, Capello told ITV Sport that he was considering not choosing experienced player David Beckham again, stating that he wanted to give upcoming youth players more of a chance.

UEFA Euro 2012 Qualifiers[edit]

England were drawn in Group G of the Euro 2012 qualifiers alongside Bulgaria, Switzerland, Wales and Montenegro. They introduced a new home kit for their first qualifier against Bulgaria, which they won 4–0 in a game that saw them hailed in the press as a much needed return to form, in which blue replaced red as the secondary colour. Four days later, they defeated Switzerland away 3–1.

England maintained their unbeaten start, with a 0–0 home draw against Montenegro in October. Despite being denied a penalty for a handball incident and providing better shots on goal than their opponents, the tactics played in the game generated some large criticism.

2010 ended with a home friendly against France, another familiar side who had also performed dismally at the World Cup, and were struggling to return to normal. England were outplayed and outclassed from start to finish, and France took a deserved 2–1 victory. England's fans booed the players off at the end of the game, bringing the curtain down on a troubled year for the team, which most media critics dubbed as "the worst season ever".

At the start of 2011, Capello promised that he would make radical changes to the side, in an aim to bring the team back to its best. Car company Vauxhall became the team's new main sponsors in January 2011, a deal that would originally last until 2014 but later extended. England started 2011 with a promising 2–1 win over Denmark, in which youngsters like Jack Wilshere, James Milner and Theo Walcott impressed.

The end of March saw a return to Euro 2012 qualifying with a dominant display against home rivals Wales at the Millennium Stadium, but the team could only manage a 2–0 victory, taking them to top in Group G on goal difference. They followed up with a hard-fought 1–1 draw in a friendly match against Ghana at Wembley.

A rather subdued performance against Switzerland at home in June resulted in a 2–2 draw. England then did not return to action until September, after their friendly match against Netherlands was called off, due to the widespread violence in the country at the time. In that month, two wins, 3–0 away in Bulgaria (which showcased their new away kits of navy blue) and then a 1–0 win at home to Wales, took them to the brink of qualification. A 2–2 draw in Montenegro in October sealed the group and their place in Euro 2012.

However, the qualification was marred by the sending off of Wayne Rooney, suspending him for the first game of the tournament. This ban was later increased to three and then dropped to two following a subsequent appeal.

The draw for the Euro 2012 group stage placed England in Group D, alongside France, Sweden and tournament co-hosts Ukraine.

Hodgson Era, 2012–2016: More Tournament Humiliation[edit]

England national football team crest (2012).svg

In February 2012, sports manufacturers Umbro revealed a new home kit with a modified version of the FA's crest. For the first time the England shirt was designed purely from red and white.[25]

In February 2012, John Terry was stripped of the captaincy for the second time after he was formally charged for racism offences regarding to an incident in a Premier League match with Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand, the brother of former England teammate Rio Ferdinand. Capello told Italian media that he did not agree with the FA's decision to strip Terry of the captaincy.

This resulted in rumours that Capello had breached his contract in that he always had to back decisions made by the executive board. After an urgent meeting was called, on 8 February, the FA confirmed that Capello had resigned from the manager's job with immediate effect. This occurred on the same day that Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp was cleared of charges for tax evasion and straight away, fans, press and other football figures backed Redknapp for the vacant role.

Capello's former assistant Stuart Pearce took charge for a friendly match against Netherlands, a match rescheduled from the previous summer, in which Netherlands won 3–2 and Scott Parker took the temporary role as captain. In that, the England home kits were changed again from blue and white to red and white, with the crest now in a complete red colour.

On 1 May 2012, the FA announced that Roy Hodgson would take over as manager of the team from Euro 2012 onwards. Steven Gerrard was promoted back to the captaincy when the provisional team squad for the tournament was announced. England's first two games under Hodgson were friendly matches against Norway away from home and Belgium at home, both these games ended in 1–0 wins for England.

UEFA Euro 2012: Another penalty shootout exit[edit]

Hodgson's first competitive match in charge was the first match in Euro 2012 against France in Kharkiv, the match ended a 1–1 draw. A dramatic 3–2 win over Sweden, also in Kharkiv, followed by a tense 1–0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine, saw England top their group and were drawn to play Italy in the quarter-finals. After a 0–0 draw in regulation and extra time, in which England were outplayed and outclassed, and with goalkeeper Joe Hart making numerous saves just to keep England in the match, England once again lost on penalties to Italy.

2014 FIFA World Cup and 150 years of The FA[edit]

For the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, England were seeded in Group H, having to play Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino.

The team began their qualifying campaign in September 2012, with an easy 5–0 win away in Moldova, before a hard-earned 1–1 draw at home to Ukraine, for which they trailed in most of the match only for a Frank Lampard penalty to rescue a point for England late on. In October 2012, England dispatched San Marino 5–0 at home, before drawing 1–1 away in Poland, in a match which was played a day late. This was after organisers failed to close the stadium roof in Warsaw, resulting in a waterlogged pitch. The calendar year for England ended with a 4–2 friendly defeat by Sweden in Stockholm, the first match to be played at the new Friends Arena.

The year 2013 marked 150 years of the FA, and so a series a special friendly games were scheduled to play throughout the year. These were at home to Brazil in February, winning 2–1, and then away to Brazil in June, drawing 2–2, home to Republic of Ireland in May, drawing 1–1, home to Scotland in August, winning 3–2, which saw striker Ricky Lambert score on his England debut. The Republic of Ireland marked the introduction of another new home kit, with red being replaced by navy blue as the secondary colour, giving it a similar look to the late 2000s home kits. These kits were the first to be produced by American sports manufacturer Nike, ending a long term association with Umbro.

England returned to qualifying action in March, with an 8–0 win in San Marino, and a 1–1 draw away to Montenegro. Then in September saw a win 4–0 at home to Moldova and a tame 0–0 draw in Kiev against Ukraine. Following a 4–1 win at home to Montenegro in October, Hodgson's side needed just one more win to qualify, which they did by beating Poland 2–0 at home, to secure their place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In November, however, England were given a reality check by Chile and Germany, with respective 2–0 and 1–0 defeats at Wembley.

In the 2014 FIFA World Cup itself, they failed to get past the group stage, suffering defeats to Italy and Uruguay, both losing by a goal, and a 0–0 draw against Costa Rica. The Three Lions needed Italy to win their final two games in the group to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stage, however England's hopes of progressing ended as Italy lost to Costa Rica 0–1.[26]

UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying: A Perfect Record[edit]

Following a World Cup described by some in the media as a debacle,[27][28][29] both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard retired from international football and Wayne Rooney was promptly installed as the new captain. England's first match following the tournament, a 1–0 friendly win over Norway, was more noticeable for being the lowest attended international match in Wembley history. The FA made the unprecedented decision to close off the top block of the stadium due to a lack of interest from fans; the match was also beaten head-to-head in the TV ratings by an episode of the popular BBC programme, The Great British Bake Off.

Even though England had a relatively disappointing performance in the 2014 World Cup, it changed in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. England were drawn into Group E with Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino. England started their campaign with a 2–0 victory over Switzerland in St. Jakob-Park in Basel. Later, they defeated San Marino with a score of 0–5, 0–1 against Estonia, 3–1 against Slovenia, 4–0 against Lithuania, and 2–3 against Slovenia again on 14 June 2015 in Stadion Stožice in Ljubljana.

On 5 September 2015, England beat San Marino 6–0 at San Marino Stadium, Serravalle, to become the first team to qualify for Euro 2016.[30] Victories against Switzerland and Estonia at home – the former match saw Wayne Rooney break the record for the all-time leading England goalscorer – and away in Lithuania helped England achieve their first 100% qualifying campaign record for a major tournament.

UEFA Euro 2016: From High Hopes to a New Low[edit]

England were seeded the final tournament draw and were placed in Group B to face Russia, Wales and Slovakia. Their first match, in Marseille against Russia, finished in a 1–1 draw, as they failed to make their superior domination in the match pay; Eric Dier had put England in front from a well executed free-kick before they conceded a stoppage time equaliser. The second match in Lens was their much anticipated clash with Wales. England fell behind just before half-time when a Joe Hart was unable to prevent Gareth Bale scoring from a free-kick, however Hodgson responded by bringing on both Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge at the start of the second half and the game turned in England's favour as both scored, with Sturridge netting the winner in stoppage time to win the game 2–1.

With their fate in their own hands, Hodgson made the bold decision to rest six players, including Wayne Rooney, for the final group match against Slovakia in Saint-Étienne. The gamble backfired as England struggled to break past a Slovakian side that had clearly turned up to play for the draw. The match ended in an goalless draw, and coupled with Wales' 3–0 win over Russia, it meant England came runners-up of Group B and were sent to the tougher side of the knockout stage draw.

For a while, it appeared Portugal would be England's next opponents, but following a late winner for Iceland in their final group match, the Scandinavian debutantes would instead lie in wait for the Three Lions in Nice. For the round of 16 match, Hodgson restored the same starting XI used for the first two group matches with the single exception of Sturridge starting instead of Adam Lallana. England made the perfect start, with Rooney scoring a penalty inside three minutes, only for Ragnar Sigurðsson to equalise for the minnows nearly 60 seconds later. In the 18th minute, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson made the most of poor goalkeeping by Joe Hart to give Iceland a lead of 2–1. From there, Iceland defended resolutely while England struggled to make any chances of their own. Iceland held on for a famous victory, and inflicted England's most embarrassing defeat at a major tournament since 1950, where they lost to the United States.

The players were booed off the pitch, and suffered almighty ridicule from the media, in both the UK and around the world. Minutes after the match, Hodgson announced his immediate resignation, with Ray Lewington and Gary Neville also leaving their positions as Hodgson's assistants.

Allardyce Era, 2016: Gone In 67 Days[edit]

A little under a month since their dismal exit from Euro 2016, the FA appointed Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce as the new manager of the national side. Allardyce opted to forego a friendly match to begin his reign, so his first match in charge was the opening match of England's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign away in Slovakia, for which England had been drawn in the same group as rivals Scotland. England labored to a 1–0 win in Trnava, with Adam Lallana scoring in stoppage time.

A week and a half before the next round of qualifying matches, The Daily Telegraph broke a story of Allardyce appearing to meet up with a group of Far East businessmen, but were later revealed to be undercover journalists working for the newspaper. The content of the meeting showed Allardyce appearing to explain how to "get around" breaking football transfer policies and also apparently mocking his predecessor Roy Hodgson, the England players and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Allardyce apologised for his misconduct but the FA sacked him on those grounds. Allardyce's tenure of 67 days is the shortest for a permanent manager in England history.

Southgate Era: Revival and new young talent[edit]

That same day, 27 September 2016, Gareth Southgate left his role as manager for the England under-21 team and was put in temporary charge of the national team until 15 November of that year.[31] On 30 November 2016, Southgate was appointed as permanent England manager on a four-year contract.[32] Under Southgate, England finished 1st in the qualifying group; in which they recorded 8 wins and 2 draws, without a single defeat; also scoring 18 goals and conceding just 3 goals.[33]

2018 FIFA World Cup: When Football Nearly Came Home[edit]

At the 2018 FIFA World Cup, England were drawn in a group featuring Belgium, Tunisia and debutants Panama.[34][35] The first match was played against Tunisia; in which England won 2–1 with two goals from captain Harry Kane, including a stoppage-time winner.[36][37] In the next match, England hammered Panama 6–1; marking England's largest win at a major tournament, with a brace from John Stones, a hat-trick from Harry Kane and a goal from Jesse Lingard; the match secured both England and Belgium's advancement into the round of sixteen.[38][39][40] With the hat-trick, Harry Kane became the third England player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup match, after Geoff Hurst against Germany in the 1966 final and Gary Lineker against Poland in 1986.[41] England's third and final game was against Belgium; which England lost 0–1, finishing second in the group.[42] England played with Colombia in the round of sixteen; in which they led 1–0 through a penalty from Harry Kane before conceding a stoppage-time equaliser from Colombia to take the match to extra-time; the match could not be finished in extra-time, leading the match to penalties; which England won 4–3 with Eric Dier scoring the winning penalty, securing England's first penalty shootout win at the World Cup, and also just their second penalty shootout win at a major tournament, the previous being against Spain at Euro 1996.[43][44] England's quarter-final meeting was against Sweden; which they won 2–0, with goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli; qualifying England for their first semi-final since 1990, in which they finished in fourth place.[45][46]

England played Croatia in the semi-finals, on 11 July.[47] However, they lost 2–1 despite initially taking the lead through a free-kick from Kieran Trippier and dominating the first half; but a goal from Ivan Perišić in the 68th minute sent the tie into extra-time, with Mario Mandžukić scoring the crucial goal that took Croatia to their first ever World Cup final. In the last minutes of extra-time, England were forced to play with 10 men as a result of Kieran Trippier suffering an injury, and England already having made the permitted four substitutions.[48][49] England played Belgium for a second time in the third place play-off, on 14 July and lost 2-0.[50]


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  15. ^ Note: Robson's goal was incorrectly described by the television commentator on United Kingdom TV as the fastest ever in the World Cup Finals. This led to the myth that many people believed. Václav Mašek of Czechoslovakia had scored after 16 seconds against Mexico in 1962, a record that stood for 40 years, until Hakan Şükür of Turkey scored after 11 seconds in 2002. Robson's goal can be correctly described as the fastest England goal in the World Cup Finals.
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