Their league is looked upon as the best in the world. Their fans are regarded as the most loyal and exciting there are. Their stadiums are a joy to visit. Their teams are fantastic to watch and follow, powerful sometimes reach he higher stages of European competitions. Some of their players are and has been true superstars of the game. And yes, their national team has not won a thing in over 50 years now. And yet, when one mentions the English football national team, it's always the same thought: would they be able to win the next, upcoming international tournament? Any upcoming tournament?
When you mention football, England is referred to as the "birthplace of football"' where it all begun. Founded in 1863, England has the oldest national team in the world, together with Scotland, against whom it played in what is believed to be the first ever international match in 1872.
England didn’t participate in the first three world cups due to their disengagement from FIFA until 1950. During that period, England, along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, founded the British Home Championship Tournament.
The "Three Lions" as they are nicknamed, played for the first time in FIFA World Cup Brazil 1950, failing to qualify from the group stage.
In 1953 England suffered its worst defeats ever in an international match, losing to the great Hungary team (led by Ferenc Puskás) 3-6 at Wembley and 1-7 in Budapest.
It took England 13 years to recover from these horrible performances and to become champions of the world, when hosting the 1966 tournament. The final match, not nearly 20 years after the end of World War II, matched England against bitter rivals Germany (then West Germany), who has already won the World Cup. England won 4-2 in a match that will forever be remembered for the most controversial goal scored in World Cup competition by Geoff Hurst. The Germans got their revenge in the 1970 tournament, while beating England in the quarter-finals 3-2 in extra time, after the English led 2-0. Another chapter was written during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, when the referee ignored a clear goal by Frank Lampard, which could have tied the game that eventually ended 4-1 in favor of Germany.
England has developed another fierce rivalry with Argentina. Four years after the Falklands War, when emotions were still running high, the two teams met in the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, in a match that still represent the second most controversial goal scored in cup competition after Hurst's. This time it was Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" that beat Peter Shilton and the entire English nation on the way to a 2-1 victory. The revenge could have been served in the 1998 FIFA World Cup France in the round of 16, but after 18-year old Michael Owen scored in the first half after running through the entire Argentina defense, the South Americans came back and won the match on penalties after extra time in a rough game, where six yellow cards were handed.
England's semi-finals appearance in the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy was its highest achievement since 1966. The team lost 2-4 to Germany on penalties and finished fourth. Four years later England marked its lowest point, when it didn't qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup United States.
England plays its home game in the magnificent, 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium, that was open in 2007 on the site of the old Wembley.
Peter Shilton is England's all-time cap holder, with 125 appearances. Wayne Ronny is the top goal-scorer, with 53 goals scored to his credit.
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