The England national team are controlled by the Football Association – the governing body of English Football. Founded in 1870 at the same time as the Scottish national team, they are the joint oldest International football team and the first ever recognised International match took place between the two sides in 1872, they had played two years previously, but both sides were then independently selected and operated rather than controlled by a single football association.
England officially joined FIFA in 1906 and at the time had no permanent home ground, so other than playing against the home nations, toured central Europe in 1908 for their matches. Wembley Stadium opened in 1923 and later became the home ground of the national team so it wouldn’t be knocked down and wasted. Relations between England and FIFA soon became strained however, and subsequently parted ways in 1928, only to rejoin in 1946, which meant they were unable to compete in the World Cup until 1950, where things didn’t go to plan as Walter Winterbottom’s men crashed out to the US in the first round.
The Three Lions’ first defeat on home soil was suffered at Goodison Park in 1949 against the Republic of Ireland, losing 2-0. In 1953, a 6-3 loss to Hungary was the second home defeat at Wembley, and the biggest loss to date was an embarrassing 7-1 defeat in the return fixture in Budapest. England made the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 1954 but lost to the reigning champions Uruguay, however, the team was still picked by committee until 1963 when Alf Ramsey took over as the second permanent manager. England hosted the World Cup in 1966 and Ramsey led the team to their first, and currently only, World Cup success, defeating West Germany 4-2 in the final with Geoff contributing a hat-trick. Ramsey then went on the lead the country to the best European Championships campaign two years later in 1968 – England have not surpassed that mark to date.
As reigning champions, England automatically qualified for the 1970 World Cup finals, only to be the victims of vengeance at the quarter-final stage by West Germany, which was followed by failure to qualify for the next two World Cups as Ramsey was sacked. Ron Greenwood took over and the team qualified for the 1982 edition, but were famously knocked out despite not losing a game. Bobby Robson was the next man to take the reins, and they reached the 1986 quarter-finals before being knocked out by Argentina, whose player Maradona controversially scored twice, although one is still an issue of contention for Englishmen today and will be for the foreseeable future. There is strong evidence to show that Maradona handled the ball, but nothing was given at the time, which is now notoriously known as the ‘Hand of God’.
The next time England made any progress was in the 1990 World Cup, where they finished fourth, losing once again to West Germany in the semi-final but matching their previous best finish. Once again, this was followed up by defeat at the Euros, where they failed to win any matches, drawing twice and losing the other group stage game to be eliminated. The 1990s saw the England team have four managers who all only stayed for a very brief period. And since the heavy heights of the 1990 World Cup, the team have failed to make the very latter stages of the World Cup and European Championships. England’s performance in 2016’s Euros emphasised the international crisis that’s been going down for countless years. After finishing behind home nation Wales in the group stage, despite defeating Chris Coleman’s side, minnows Iceland got the better of a team jam-packed with Premier League stars in the quarter-finals, resulting in Roy Hodgson resigning minutes after the full-time whistle in his press conference.
It’s hard to disagree with the pundits labelling it as the worst performance this country has ever seen, as Sam Allardyce stepped in shortly afterwards to undertake what was vastly known as his dream job. It all turned into a nightmare though, as it was revealed the former West Ham manager had severely breached FA rules leading to his resignation just 67 days later – making him the shortest reigning England gaffer of all time. He was replaced by under-21 boss at the time Gareth Southgate on the same day as his departure, and Southgate was awarded a four-year contract at the end of November.
England’s top three goalscorers are Wayne Rooney with 53 goals from 119 caps, Bobby Charlton from the 1966 World Cup winning squad with 49 goals from 106 caps, and Gary Lineker is next holding 80 caps and 48 goals. The most successful manager has been Alf Ramsey as he led the team to World Cup glory and is the only manager out of all 15 with a win percentage higher than 75%, but Southgate has not lost many matches at all whilst at the helm. The Three Lions are on the verge of 2018 World Cup Russia qualification, so Southgate will be hoping his first major tournament in charge will be one to remember for all the right reasons.