England has been a country synonymous with football for as long as the sport caught on in Europe. In fact, several national leagues in Europe owe their existence to students from England who were avid football fans. England’s national team is one of the two oldest football teams in Europe and the world, the other one being Scotland.
The first time England played an international match was with Scotland. It was on November 30, 1872 and the score was tied at 0-0. The first time it entered the FIFA World Cup was in 1950. Let us bask in the glory and history of the Three Lions led by Harry Kane.
Early years of England
After the first match with Scotland, it would be four decades before England took anyone on, aside from Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. They didn’t have their own home stadium until 1923. They joined FIFA for a few years, before leaving it in 1928, but they would return after WWII. Unfortunately, when they entered the FIFA World Cup in 1950 for the first time, the United States wiped the floor with them.
Sink or Swim
It wasn’t until 1966 that England won their first FIFA World Cup. They hosted the event and defeated Germany in the final. They also made excellent progress on the European stage – in 1968 they reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro. The following World Cups of 1970 and 1974 were not kind to this team.
In the 80s, the national team did all they could, but they could not get past the quarter-finals in the UEFA Euro and the semi-finals of the World Cup. In 1990, they finished the FIFA World Cup 4th, though their medals were identical to Italy, who finished 3rd.
Sparks of Hope and Failures
In 1994, England failed to qualify for the World Cup. This was not the first, nor the last, time the team was not allowed to play on the world stage. Several players of the team were heavily criticized for their lifestyle choices, including an active nightlife. There were two players who rose up to become the legends of football and bring back some of the honour the country lost over the years. They were Michael Owen and David Beckham.
Michael Owen was the youngest goal-scorer that was originally brought in as a substitute in 1998. He was chosen to be in the first team for the final battle in the group stage against Columbia. England was to take on Argentina next, where Owen managed to score the third greatest goal in England’s history. Sadly, the game was lost on penalties. This, however, was enough to put Owen permanently on the team until 2008, when he stopped playing.
David Beckham’s rise to stardom wasn’t an easy one. In the aforementioned 1998 FIFA World Cup, he received the red card, making the player an easy target and scapegoat of furious football fans. It would be two more years before Beckham became the captain of the team and the hero we all know and love. He actually earned 115 caps in his 13-year career, sharing the 204th place on the list of footballers with more than 100 international caps.
Where Is England Now?
After listing the team’s failures, many readers will be surprised to find out that England is currently positioned 4th on the world stage. It may not sound much, and there are those that would argue that this shows England is not the best. Be that as it may, it also tells us that England is good enough to play against the best.