Tag Archives: Three Lions

Hampden Park, Glasgow

Preview: Euro 2020 Group D

England

The Three Lions topped Group A in the qualifiers, suffering just one loss: a 2-1 away defeat against the Czech Republic. They are among the favourites to lift the trophy next summer, but it would be their first European title.

England have reached the Euro finals on 10 occasions, their best finish being third place in 1968, when Italy hosted. They have failed to make the knockout stages on four occasions, and in 2016 were famously beaten in the last 16 by tournament minnows and debutants Iceland.

In Group D, the Three Lions will again meet their Czech opponents from qualifying. Apart from October’s loss, they have beaten them in their three other encounters. Against Croatia, England have won five out of 10 meetings, but they ended English hopes in the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. If Scotland qualify, they will resume the oldest rivalry in international football, having played England 114 times. England have won both of their two matches against Israel, their only game against Serbia, and defeated Norway in seven of their 12 meetings.

Coach: Gareth Southgate has now been England’s manager for three years. At the 2018 World Cup, he led them to the final four, giving young talent a chance – having been England’s Under-21s boss – and signalling that the Three Lions could become a major force again.

Key player: Tottenham’s Harry Kane will be crucial to England’s hopes next summer, To date, he has 32 goals in 45 international appearances, with 12 of those coming in eight Euro 2020 qualifiers. He also became the first English player to score in every match of a qualifying campaign. Kane won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup with six goals, and will surely be among the favourites to be the top scorer at Euro 2020.

Croatia

Croatia were runners-up to France at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and topped their Euro qualifying group with just one loss. It will be their sixth appearance in the tournament, their best finish being as quarter-finalists. At Euro 2016 in France, they were eliminated by eventual winners Portugal in the last 16, and could face them again in next summer’s second round, depending on results.

Having defeated England in the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup, Croatia lost to them in the Uefa Nations League group stage. Croatia has never lost to the Czechs in their three meetings, and have one victory and a draw in their two games against fierce rivals Serbia. They are unbeaten in nine against Israel, and have had three victories, a draw, and a loss against Norway. They have yet to beat the Scots in five encounters.

Coach: After guiding Croatia to their first-ever World Cup final in 2018, Zlatko Dalic is a national hero at home. Since taking the job in 2017, his team have only suffered seven losses in 30 games.

Key player: At 34, skipper Luka Modric remains Croatia’s main man. The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is his nation’s second most-capped player, with 127 appearances, only seven behind Darijo Srna. The Real Madrid and former Spurs star pulls the strings in midfield and is also a goal threat.

Czech Republic

The Czechs have qualified for every Euro finals since 1996, when they were runners-up to Germany. The also sealed third place in 2004, but at Euro 2016 they failed to make it out of their group. They finished second behind England in qualifying Group A.

To date, they have lost two of their four meetings against the Three Lions, and have never beaten Croatia. Against their potential play-off path opponents, however, they have better records. The Czechs have only lost to Scotland twice in seven meetings, only once in seven against Norway, and have won both their games against Israel. Against the Serbs, they have a win and a defeat.

Coach: The former Czech international Jaroslav Silhavy took charge of the national team in September 2018. He also served as assistant coach from 2001 to 2009. Silhavy has won Czech league titles with Slovan Liberec and Slavia Prague, and the national team have eight victories in 14 games under him.

Key player: Forward Patrik Schick scored seven times during qualifying. Capped 19 times, the 23-year-old has nine goals in total and looks set to be his country’s main source of firepower next summer.

Who will become the play-off Path C winner?

Norway finished behind Spain and Sweden in their qualifying group, with two wins and three draws. Their only previous appearance at a Euro finals came in 2000, when their trip ended at the group stage.

Their only match to date against Serbia ended in a draw. Against Israel, they have had a win and a loss. Scotland have proved tricky opponents down the years, with nine losses, six draws, and only three wins in their 18 meetings.

Serbia were in Group B in the qualifying stage and notched up four wins in eight games. They have never previously qualified for the European Championship but have unbeaten records against Israel and Scotland.

Scotland have not qualified for a Euro finals since 2000, and in their two tournaments to date have never reached the knock-out stages. They have a good record against Israel, losing just once in five previous meetings. The Scots have the incentive of matches being played on home turf at Hampden Park in Glasgow if they make it through to the finals.

Israel will make history if they can reach the Euro 2020 as it will be the first time they have qualified. Their only previous appearance at a major football tournament was at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Israeli forward Eran Zahavi had 11 goals in qualifying, the same as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Norway v Serbia 26/03/2020, 17:00
Scotland v Israel 26/03/2020, 19:45

Group D schedule

The team which tops Group D will meet one in the next round from Group F, which includes France, Germany. Whoever finishes second could play either Portugal or Spain from the Group F in the last 16.

England v Croatia 14/06/20, 14:00, Wembley Stadium
TBD v Czech R 15/06/20, 14:00, Hampden Park
Croatia v Czech R 19/06/20, 17:00, Hampden Park
England v TBD 19/06/20, 20:00, Wembley Stadium
Croatia v TBD 23/06/20, 20:00, Hampden Park
Czech R v England 23/06/20 20:00, Wembley

Hampden Park photo by Justin Green via Flickr Creative Commons under licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

England run riot in their 1,000th international to reach Euro 2020

Gareth Southgate’s team confirmed qualification for the 2020 Uefa European Championship in style with an emphatic 7-0 win over Montenegro.

There was already celebratory mood in the air at Wembley as the FA marked the Three Lions’ 1,000th match, and the party really got going as the hosts raced in a 5-0 lead by half-time against their game but limited Group A rivals.

Harry Kane was the star of that first 45 minutes, notching a quickfire hat-trick after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had opened the scoring 11 minutes in, and Marcus Rashford also got on the scoresheet on the half-hour.

England, perhaps understandably, let the tempo drop after the break, but an own goal from Aleksandar Sofranac and Tammy Abraham’s first senior strike for the hosts completed Montenegro’s misery on an historic night.

Perfect ball

England’s youngest-ever starting XI looked a little anxious early on as the visitors – with no hope of Euro 2020 qualification – pushed forward, but any nerves were soon settled by Oxlade-Chamberlain’s accomplished finish.

Kane now has 31 goals in 44 games, which leaves him 22 off the record held by Wayne Rooney, who he replaced for his first cap

With England knocking on the door, Ben Chilwell drove towards the box from the centre of the pitch and flighted a perfect ball over the top for the Liverpool midfielder who took a touch before nestling the ball into the bottom left corner.

It was the first time Oxlade-Chamberlain, a relative veteran at 26, had started for his country since March 2018, and his first goal in an England shirt for over two years.

Skipper Kane missed a golden opportunity to open his account just minutes later as his goal-bound header hit Sofranic, but the Tottenham striker got off the mark before 20 minutes were on the clock.

It came from a free kick on the edge of the box as Chilwell – playing only his 10th England match but looking every inch an established international – again came up with the assist. He planted the ball perfectly onto the captain’s head and Kane made no mistake this time.

Crushed

The number nine was crucial to Southgate’s plan, dropping deep and carrying the ball to make space for the midfielders to get involved, and it bore fruit again in the 24th minute.

It was that Chilwell-Kane combination which crushed any lingering hopes that Montenegro had of getting back into the game. This time from a corner, the Leicester City full-back presented his team-mate with another header that ended up in the net, bringing up 30 goals for the prolific Spurs star.

Chilwell, later named as man of the match, became the first England player since Glen Johnson in June 2009, to bag three assists for his country.

Montenegro were not quite done, however, and there was almost a shock to the system as Jordan Pickford was forced into making a point-blank save to deny defender Marko Simic in the 27th minute.

Normal service was soon resumed, however, this time through Rashford. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross was met by the head of Harry Maguire, but Milan Mijatovic’s save fell to the Manchester United forward, who twisted and turned his way through the defence before burying the ball into the net.

Montenegro were 5-0 down by the interval as Kane completed his hat-trick in the 37th minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold was the creator, playing in his in-form skipper to find the far left-hand corner of the goal.

A mix-up in England’s defence meant that Pickford again had to come to the rescue as Fatos Beqiraj found space between John Stones and Maguire, but the Everton keeper was quickly off his line to deny him in the 41st minute.

Smashed in

Gareth Southgate gave both Kane and Oxlade-Chamberlain a chance to rest, with James Maddison and Tammy Abraham coming on in the 57th minute, as the game – no longer really a contest – entered a less explosive phase.

Kane departed with 31 goals in 44 games which leaves him 22 off the record held by Wayne Rooney, who was among a group of former England stars greeted with warm applause on the pitch at half-time.

Still only 26, Kane looks set to be England’s main goal threat for several years to come, and surely has every chance of surpassing Rooney’s total.

No England player was required for the next goal as defender Sofranic found himself in the wrong place at the right time for the hosts. A Rashford cross came off Jadon Sancho before Mason Mount’s shot hit bar, only for the unfortunate Sofranic to divert the rebound over the line for 6-0.

With sections of the 77,277 crowd starting to drift away to beat the Wembley post-match rush, Abraham completed the scoring, combining with winger Sancho who played the ball across for the Chelsea striker to slide it home with six minutes remaining.

The only blemish on an otherwise perfect evening for England came when some fans booed Joe Gomez as he came on as a substitute, following his minor fracas with Raheem Sterling which led to the Manchester City striker being dropped for the 1,000th game.

Sterling later took to social media to defend Gomez and again accept the blame for their bust-up. Southgate will want to draw a firm line under the row and begin his planning for next summer’s tournament.

Photos by Brandon Prangell.

Every England manager ranked: 15th-1st

As England play their 1,000th match against Montenegro at Wembley on November 14th, Elephant Sport takes a look at the men who have taken charge of the Three Lions down the years.

15. Sam Allardyce (2016)

‘Big Sam’ is the hardest to judge of them all, seeing as he only had one game in charge – an utterly forgettable game against Slovakia that was won by Adam Lallana in the 95th-minute.

His reign was brought to an abrupt and infamous end after a newspaper sting purported to show him offering advice on how to “get around” rules on third-party player ownership.

Despite being the only permanent England manager with a 100% win record, the embarrassment that Allardyce brought on the FA and the briefness of his reign puts him stone dead last in this list.

14. Steve McClaren (2006-2007)

He was nicknamed the ‘wally with the brolly’ after he sheltered under an umbrella in the pouring rain during England’s 3-2 defeat to Croatia at Wembley – a result that ended their hopes of reaching the 2008 European Championships.

Generally viewed as one of the Three Lions’ least inspiring managers, and considering the quality of the squad McClaren had at his disposal, the failure to qualify for Euro 2008 has to go down as one of the biggest under-achievements in England’s history.

13. Kevin Keegan (1999-2000)

Keegan was an icon whilst representing England in his playing days, but he failed to achieve the same distinguished status as manager – to put it politely.

The former Newcastle United boss’ side exited Euro 2000 after Phil Neville gave a last-minute penalty away in a 3-2 defeat to Romania, and dramatically quit his role as boss after a 1-0 defeat against Germany in the last-ever match at the old Wembley.

It’s fair to say it wasn’t an enjoyable time for England fans – nor, by his admission, was it an enjoyable time for Keegan, later saying he “found it hard to fill in the time”.

12. Graham Taylor (1990-1993)

Taylor remains a well-respected figure in football for his success with Watford and Aston Villa in the 80’s and 90’s but, much like Keegan, he proved that international management isn’t for everyone, with an ignominious stint in charge of England.

The ex-Villa boss was famously depicted as a turnip on the front of a tabloid newspaper following England’s 3-2 defeat to Sweden in Euro 1992 and, after the dismal failure to qualify for the World Cup in the USA, resigned from his post in 1993.

11. Don Revie (1974-1977)

Revie was the mastermind of the great Leeds United team of the 70’s, but failed to live up to expectations as England manager.

He was appointed to much fanfare in 1974, but the Leeds legend failed to get England to Euro 1976 and left for a highly-lucrative move to coach the United Arab Emirates a year later. It was always going to be tough to succeed the great Sir Alf Ramsay, but someone of Revie’s calibre should have performed a lot better.

10. Fabio Capello (2008-2012)

Capello was one of the biggest names in football management when he got the England job in 2008. Considering his huge reputation as a manager across Europe, coupled with the talented crop of players at his disposal, it was difficult to see how this could possibly go wrong – but it did.

Despite a very strong qualifying campaign for World Cup 2010, the tournament itself was a disaster. A dreary 0-0 draw with Algeria was sandwiched in between a Rob Green howler against USA and a thrashing against old rivals Germany.

The Italian dramatically resigned from his post after John Terry was stripped of the captaincy against his wishes. Not many England fans were sad to see the back of him.

9. Sven Goran-Eriksson (2001-2006)

The Swede became the first foreign manager of the England national team in 2001 when he replaced Kevin Keegan. Eriksson was seen as something of a master tactician and, following success in Serie A with Sampdoria and Lazio, it seemed like a forward-thinking choice.

However – despite having the so-called ‘golden generation’ at his disposal – Sven could only guide England to the quarter-final stage of the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. He really should have done a lot better with the squad that he had, and the way that quality was squandered means he won’t be remembered fondly as England boss.

8. Roy Hodgson (2012-2016)

The former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager swooped in and pinched the England job from right under Harry Redknapp’s nose in 2012 after Capello dramatically walked out just a few months before the start of the European Championships.

Hodgson steered England to the quarter-finals of that tournament, where they were ultimately knocked out on penalties by Italy. That wasn’t a bad achievement under the circumstances, but that’s as good as it got for him.

His side crashed out at the group-stage of the 2014 World Cup and were then embarrassingly dumped out of Euro 2016 by Iceland, which led him to resign in his post-match press conference.

He maneuvered some tricky circumstances well and always managed to guide England through strong qualifying campaigns, but the way his sides crumbled at the finals of major tournaments leaves Hodgson mid-table in this list.

7. Ron Greenwood (1977-1982)

Greenwood isn’t somebody that is particularly well-remembered and wasn’t that highly thought-of at the time either; mainly due to him not being Brian Clough, who many thought should have been given the job back in 1977.

However, he was important in the revival of England; finally steering the nation back into a major tournament in 1980 after a decade-long absence. Greenwood’s tenure also included the landmark selection of England’s first-ever black player when Viv Anderson was included in the squad in 1978.

His England team went unbeaten at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, but missed out on a semi-final spot after failing to beat the hosts in the second group stage. Despite that, Greenwood remains a bit of a forgotten man in England’s history and, therefore, only manages seventh place on this list.

6. Glenn Hoddle (1996-1999)

Hoddle’s ideas, on paper, looked exciting. As befitted one of the most exciting talents of his generation, his aim were to play an attacking, stylish brand of football and drag the national team into a modern era of the game.

His stint in charge was eventful. He brought a young Michael Owen into the squad for the World Cup in 1998 and, well, the rest is history, as they say. That was also the match where David Beckham was infamously sent off for petuntately kicking out at Diego Simeone.

He left the role in controversial circumstances after doing an interview where he seemed to suggest that people with disabilities were being punished for sins in a former life. Unsurprisingly, the FA didn’t react well to these statements and fired him soon after.

There’s a feeling that Hoddle left before he really got started and could have been more successful. Due to some of the failings of many of the managers who’ve followed him, he’s ranked fairly highly in this list.

5. Walter Winterbottom (1946-1962)

Seeing as Winterbottom left his post nearly 60 years ago, it’s hardly surprising that many England fans will never have heard of him.

He was England’s first-ever manager and is the longest-serving coach in the history of the nation, staying in charge for 16 years. He took England to four World Cup tournaments and also helped revolutionise the managerial role, putting more emphasis on coaching players on the training ground.

Some argue that he never really recovered from the embarrassing 6-3 home defeat to Hungary in 1953 and his sides never went far enough at major tournaments, but his pioneering influence as coach paved the way for future managers and leaves him with a strong legacy in the game.

4. Gareth Southgate (2016-present)

After finding themselves in a post-Allardyce wilderness, Southgate sewed England back together and made watching them enjoyable again in that unforgettable summer of sun, singing and beer-throwing in 2018.

He certainly wasn’t everyone’s first choice when he took the reins in 2016; seen as just another FA ‘yes man’. But he soon stamped his authority on the side by phasing out an ageing Wayne Rooney, bringing through young players and switching to a three-at-the-back system for the World Cup.

The former U21 boss saw his changes work wonders as England reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1990; falling at the penultimate hurdle against Croatia. It’s still early days in Southgate’s tenure, but the summer of ‘18 won’t be forgotten in a hurry and that puts the current coach up in fourth-place.

3. Terry Venables (1994-1996)

Much like Southgate, Venables put the enjoyment back into watching England after the failure of missing out on a place at the World Cup in 1994. England really captured the imagination of a nation on home soil at Euro ’96 and, again, much like Southgate, helped produce another unforgettable summer in the nation’s sporting history. The 4-1 hammering of the Netherlands remains one of England’s all-time great performances.

He didn’t stick around for as long as perhaps he should have, but the memories he helped created coupled with the way he got the best out of his players – Paul Gascoigne in particular – means he sneaks into the top-three.

2. Bobby Robson (1982-1990)

Robson is remembered as the suave, charming, twinkly-eyed coach who nearly guided England to their second World Cup triumph in 1990. He undoubtedly goes down as a legend, but he wasn’t always liked in the same way that he is now.

The former Ipswich and Barcelona boss had a mixed record at tournaments and was subject to mass derision in the press before that memorable World Cup campaign of 1990 after a fairly disastrous Euro 1988, where England lost all three of the matches they played.

However, Robson turned things around in Italy two years later; cementing himself as a legend within the game.

1. Alf Ramsey (1963-1974)

It won’t come as much surprise to anyone that Sir Alf Ramsey tops this list, considering he remains the only England manager to life the World Cup aloft.

The second longest-serving boss guided a side that contained the likes of Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton to the nation’s only trophy in 1966 with a famous 4-2 win over West Germany at Wembley Stadium.

Despite his tenure tailing off and failing to lead the side to Euro 1972 and the 1974 World Cup, it’s difficult to look beyond Ramsey as the greatest England manager of all time. It’s been over 60 years now and there’s still not been a man to repeat his feat. It’ll be interesting to see how much longer that wait goes on…

Image credits: Dmitry Sadovnikov, Rob Anefo & Anton Zaitsevvia via Wikipedia Commons.

England’s 100 Club – Three Lions most loyal servants

A total of 1,244 players have earned at least one cap for the England men’s international football team. However, only nine have reached 100 or more. Elephant Sport takes a look back of the careers of those history makers.

Peter Shilton – 125 caps

England’s record appearance maker, the goalkeeper made his debut in a 3-1 victory over East Germany in November 1970. He spent two years as understudy to arguably England’s greatest ever shot-stopper, Gordon Banks, before the World Cup winner lost his sight in one eye following a car crash in 1972.

England failed to qualify for either the 1974 or 1978 World Cups, so it was not until 1982 in Spain when Shilton made his debut in the Finals, playing every game as the Three Lions remained unbeaten but were knocked out in the second round.

He started every match in both Mexico 86 and Italia 90, helping England reach the quarter-finals in Mexico, where they lost to Argentina, before finishing fourth in Italy following a semi-final loss on penalties to Germany.

Of Shilton’s 125 caps, 17 of those came during his three World Cup appearances, while three came in European Championships. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Wayne Rooney – 120 caps

England’s most-capped outfield player, the former Manchester United and Everton forward is also his country’s leading goalscorer with 53, ahead of Sir Bobby Charlton in scored on 49.

His international debut came as a second-half substitute in a 3-1 loss to Australia, and he later became the youngest England goalscorer at 17 years and 317 days in a 2-1 win over Macedonia.

It was Euro 2004 when Rooney truly burst onto the international stage. He scored four goals and was named in Uefa’s team of the tournament. Were it not for an injury suffered during England’s quarter-final loss to hosts Portugal, many pundits believed he could have led his country to glory.

He struggled, however, at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, failing to score in either and was sent-off during England’s quarter-final defeat to Portugal in ’06. His World Cup record overall is disappointing, with just one goal – against Uruguay in 2014 – from his 11 appearances.

He has a much better record in European Championships, netting six in his 10 appearances in the tournament. He was appointed England captain by manager Roy Hodgson in 2014.

Rooney’s record-breaking goal came from the penalty spot at Wembley in a qualifier against Switzerland in September 2015, and he retired from international football in August 2017, before returning for a farewell match against the USA in November 2018.

David Beckham – 115 caps

Perhaps England’s most famous player worldwide, Beckham made his debut in a 3-0 victory over Moldova in September 1996. He was picked for the 1998 World Cup in France and scored his first England goal in their final group match against Colombia, which the Three Lions won 2-0.

However, he was infamously sent-off in their last-16 clash with Argentina, after kicking out at Diego Simeone. England went on to lose the match on penalties.

Beckham featured in all three of England’s Euro 2000 games as they crashed out in the group stage, but scored perhaps the most famous of his 17 goals for his country a year later. With England needing a point to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, they trailed 2-1 to Greece before Beckham scored a sensational free-kick in stoppage time to secure their ticket to the finals.

He scored the winner in a group-stage victory over Argentina at the tournament, before they were knocked out by eventual champions Brazil in the quarter-finals. He had been appointed captain by then-caretaker boss Peter Taylor towards the end of 2000.

Beckham played a star role in England’s Euro 2004 campaign, before scoring once in his final international tournament as England exited the 2006 World Cup at the quarter-final stage. He played his final England match in October 2009 against Belarus, before injury ruled him out of the upcoming World Cup. Of Beckham’s 115 caps, 20 came at major tournaments.

Steven Gerrard – 114 caps

A key figure in England’s “Golden Generation”, his debut came in May 2000, a 2-0 victory over Ukraine, and he was included in their Euro 2000 squad, making a solitary substitute appearance.

The first of his 21 international goals came in England’s famous 2001 qualifying victory over Germany, a 5-1 thrashing in Munich. After missing out on the 2002 World Cup squad, Gerrard started every game at Euro 2004, scoring once.

The Liverpool legend was England’s top scorer at the 2006 World Cup, scoring twice in five matches, but did miss his penalty in England’s shootout loss to Portugal. After failing to qualify for Euro 2008, his next tournament appearance came in the 2010 World Cup. Gerrard scored in England’s opening group-stage draw with the USA as they went on to crash out to Germany in the last 16.

Gerrard was named captain by Roy Hodgson ahead of Euro 2012, where the midfielder excelled, being named in the team of the tournament despite England losing on penalties to Italy in the last eight.

His England career ended in bitter disappointment, as the Three Lions were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup at the group stage, with Gerrard’s final cap coming in a dead rubber against Costa Rica. He played 21 times overall in major tournaments for England, scoring four goals.

Bobby Moore – 108 caps

Bobby Moore statue outside Wembley

An icon of English sport, Moore captained England to their only World Cup victory in 1966. His debut came in a 7-1 win over Israel in September 1961, and the central defender started every game at the back for his country in the 1962 World Cup, where they were beaten by Brazil in the quarters.

It was 1966 where Moore made his name, playing every minute as he led his country to World Cup glory on home soil. After beginning the tournament with a goalless draw against Uruguay, England beat Mexico and France before victory over Argentina in the quarter-finals.

A 2-1 semi-final win against Portugal was followed by England’s most famous match; a 4-2 extra-time win over Germany to seal World Cup glory. Moore was even able to provide an assist alongside his defensive work to help his country become world champions.

Moore’s final World Cup was in 1970, where they again faced extra-time against the Germans, this time losing 3-2 at the quarter-final stage. Moore managed two goals during his international career and was in 1994 named in Fifa’s all-time World Cup XI.

Ashley Cole – 107 caps

Regarded by many as England’s greatest ever left-back, Cole’s 107 caps include 22 appearances across five major tournaments. His international debut came in a 3-1 victory against Albania in March 2001, and he went on to start all five games at the 2002 World Cup.

He also started all four of England’s Euro 2004 matches, scoring his penalty in their shootout defeat by Portugal. He played every minute in the 2006 World Cup, this time not taking a penalty as England again lost to Portugal in a shootout. He was again ever-present in both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, but this time missed his spot-kick in England’s 2012 loss to Italy.

Cole earned his 100th cap against Brazil at Wembley in February 2013, helping his country to a 2-1 win. The former Arsenal and Chelsea defender’s last cap came in a friendly defeat to Germany in November later that year, as he was controversially left out of the 2014 World Cup squad by boss Roy Hodgson, prompting him to announce his international retirement. Cole was named England’s Player of the Year in 2010.

Bobby Charlton – 106 caps

The second World Cup winner to earn over 100 caps, the Manchester United legend was handed his debut by boss Walter Winterbottom in 1958, scoring in a 4-0 win against Scotland. He was selected in the squad for the World Cup that year but didn’t play, with his debut in the competition coming four years later; he played every game as England were knocked out by Brazil in the quarters, scoring once.

Charlton played every minute of England’s victorious 1966 campaign, scoring three goals in the process, and registering an assist in the final. He went on to feature in Euro 1968, scoring in England’s third place play-off win against the USSR, before his final World Cup came in 1970, where he featured in every match as England lost to Germany in the quarter-finals.

This match proved to be his last for his country, as he retired at the age of 32. Charlton won many awards during his career, including the Golden Ball at the 1966 World Cup and the Ballon d’Or in that same year. He was named alongside Moore in FIFA’s all-time World Cup team in 1994 and knighted in that same year.

Frank Lampard – 106 caps

Another of England’s famous “Golden Generation”, Lampard was handed his Three Lions debut by Kevin Keegan in October 1999, a 2-1 win against Belgium. He did not play again for England until a friendly against Spain in February 2001, playing 45 minutes of a 3-0 victory.

After failing to be picked for the 2002 World Cup, his first major tournament came at Euro 2004, where he impressed, scoring three goals. He also converted his penalty in England’s shootout defeat by Portugal and was named in the team of the tournament.

The Chelsea legend played every minute of England’s 2006 World Cup campaign, seeing his penalty saved as the Three Lions crashed out once again to Portugal on spot-kicks.

After England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008, his next major tournament came in South Africa, where he started every match. He was involved in arguably one of the most controversial moments in the history of the tournament, when with England trailing 2-1 to Germany in their last 16 clash, his shot from distance hit the bar and bounced over the line, but was not spotted by the linesman. With no goal-line technology, it wasn’t given, and Lampard’s side went on to lose 4-1.

A thigh injury ruled him out of Euro 2012, and he returned to major tournament action in 2014, which proved to be a very unsatisfactory end to what had been a fantastic international career.

He was forced to watch from the sidelines as Roy Hodgson’s men lost their first two group games, returning to captain his country in their final match, a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica. He announced his retirement following the game. Overall, Lampard scored 29 goals in his 106 games, 14 of those coming in major tournaments.

Billy Wright – 105 caps

Billy Wright statue outside Molineux

Wright featured in an era when England played fewer games, so to reach 100-plus caps is quite an achievement.

The centre-back spent his entire career at Wolves, making 490 appearances for the club, and went on to manage Arsenal for four years.

His international debut came against Belgium in January 1946, England’s third game since the war and one of several ‘Victory Internationals’.

He was the first footballer to earn 100 caps for his country, and he never received a yellow or red card throughout his long Three Lions career.

Wright also scored three goals, and captained England a record 90 times, including at the 1950, 1954 and 1958 World Cup finals. His retired in 1958 following a 5-0 victory over the USSR. In 1957, he was the Ballon d’Or runner-up and was inducted into the England Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Featured image by Rogelio A. Galaviz C. via flickr.com

Wayne Rooney photo by Rogelio A. Galaviz C. via flickr.com

Steven Gerrard photo by http://football.ua/galleries/ for Wikimedia Commons

Bobby Moore photo by OttoKristensen is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Frank Lampard photo by BikeMike for Wikimedia Commons

Billy Wright photo by Jaggery and licensed under Creative Commons license cc-by-sa/2.0

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What do you know about England’s 999 matches?

As England go into their 1,000th senior men’s game, against Montenegro at Wembley Stadium on November 14th, Elephant Sport takes a look back at some of the stats, facts and figures involved in their first 999 matches.

Overall

Games won: 571 – England’s first win was against rivals Scotland at The Oval on 8th March 1873. William Kenyon-Slaney netted a double and was the first-ever player to score in games between the two nations; the first match had ended in a 0-0 draw in the previous November.

The Three Lions most recent win was a 6-0 win away to Bulgaria in Sofia; both Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling got doubles as England edged closer to qualifying for the 2020 European Championship.

Games drew: 232 – The first-ever draw for England came in their first-ever match as they took on fierce rivals Scotland at Hamilton Crescent, Partick, Glasgow on 30th November 1872, this match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Last time that the Three Lions drew was 12th October 2018 as they were held to a 0-0 draw against Croatia in a behind closed doors Uefa Nations League qualifier. That draw saw England register their 400th clean sheet, while Jadon Sancho became the first player born in the 21st century to represent the senior England side.

Games lost: 196 – It only took three matches for England to lose with it being against their rivals Scotland who they played annually when the national football team was created. The game was held at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow, and despite the Three Lions taking the lead they lost 2-1 after Frederick Anderson and Angus MacKinnon scored, cancelling out Robert Kingsford’s earlier effort.

The most recent loss for Gareth Southgate’s side came at the hands of Czech Republic on 11th October this year at the Sinobo Stadium. Harry Kane had given the away side the lead, however, Jakub Brabec scored to equalise in Prague while Zdenek Ondrasek ensured that his side inflicted England’s first qualifier loss in 10 years.

Goals scored: 2,188 – The first goal scored for England was William Kenyon-Slaney as he netted in England’s second-ever game back in March 1873 in the three lions 4-2 win over Scotland. Harry Kane was the last player to score in their last match when England won 6-0 in Bulgaria.

Goals conceded: 983 – Henry Renny-Tailyour scored the first goal against the Three Lions in the same game that William Kenyon-Slaney scored in, his team-mate William Gibb also scored as Scotland lost 4-2. The most recent goalscorer against England was Zdenek Ondrasek, who scored five minutes from time to win the game for the Czech Republic.

Results-based

Highest ever win: Ireland 0-13 England – 18 February 1882 at Knock Ground, Belfast, Northern Ireland

This game still stands as England’s biggest-ever win, and it came in the first-match between two countries. To this day, it is still the largest-ever defeat for Ireland; it was also the first match they’d ever played. This game also yielded two hat-tricks for England, with the first making history in doing so.

Biggest loss: Hungary 7-1 England – 23 May 1954 at Puskás Ferenc Stadium, Budapest, Hungary

After famously losing 6-3 to the Magyars at Wembley, England travelled to Hungary with the idea that defeat was just a blip. However, the hosts destroyed them. They led 3-0 at the break, and things only got better for the home side.

Highest ever score-line: England 13-2 Ireland – 18th February 1899 at Roker Park, Sunderland, England

Playing at the now-demolished Roker Park, England took on the Republic of Ireland in the British Home Championship, a tournament in which Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England played for the trophy. This is the biggest scoreline to this day. Gilbert Smith scored four times while Jimmy Settle also netted a hat-trick.

Most matches played against: Scotland – 114 – England v Scotland is international football’s oldest rivalry. The first-ever encounter between the two nations came in 1872 and they continued to play annually from 1872 until 1989.

The most recent of those 114 matches ended in a draw in June 2017, as Leigh Griffiths gave Scotland the lead in the final minute before Harry Kane equalised in stoppage time to earn a point in World Cup qualifying. England have won 48 times in total, while Scotland aren’t far behind with 41 wins over their rivals.

Most wins against a nation: Wales – The Welsh have lost 67 times in the 102 games they have played against the Three Lions. The first meeting between the two ended in a 2-1 win for England at the Oval on 18th January 1879, with goals from Herbert Whitfeld and Thomas Heathcote Sorby for the hosts.

The two last met for the first time at a major tournament when they were in the same group at the 2016 European Championship. Gareth Bale gave the Dragons the lead from a free-kick before substitutes Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge won the game for England.

Managers

England Three Lions

Longest-serving England boss: Sir Walter Winterbottom is by far the longest-serving England manager, with 17 years of service for his country between 1946 and 1962. He was the first-ever national team boss for the Three Lions and managed them for 139 games in total, taking them to two World Cup quarter-finals (1954 and 1962). During his time in charge, England won 78 matches while losing only 28.

Following him was Sir Alf Ramsey who of course guided England to World Cup glory on home soil in 1966. He was in the dugout for 11 years.

Shortest-serving England manager: Sam Allardyce – Some caretaker managers have lasted more than his one game for the Three Lions. He’d won that courtesy of a late Adam Lallana goal to give his side a 1-0 win over Slovakia in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.

The former Bolton, West Ham and Newcastle boss had signed a two-year contract on 22nd July 2016, however, allegations of professional misconduct meant that he left his role by mutual consent on 27th September, having managed the team for just 67 days.

Managers to serve for England: 15 – Sir Walter Winterbottom (1946–1962); Sir Alf Ramsey (1963-1974); Don Revie (1974–1977); Ron Greenwood (1977–1982); Sir Bobby Robson (1982–1990); Graham Taylor (1990–1993); Terry Venables (1994–1996); Glenn Hoddle (1996–1999); Kevin Keegan (1999–2000); Sven-Göran Eriksson (2001–2006); Steve McClaren (2006–2007); Fabio Capello (2008–2012); Roy Hodgson (2012–2016); Sam Allardyce (2016); Gareth Southgate (2016–current).

Only Don Revie (Scotland); Sven-Göran Eriksson (Sweden) and Fabio Capello (Italy) have managed to become boss of England despite not being English.

Biggest win ratio as Three Lions’ boss: Sam Allardyce – 100% – On the technicality of him only managed a single match in which England beat Slovakia 1-0, technically Allardyce is their best-ever boss. Fabio Capello won 28 of the 42 games in his three-year tenure.

Players

Record appearances for the Three Lions: Peter Shilton – 125 (1970-1990) – His first match was on 25th November 1970 as he helped the Three Lions to a 3-1 friendly win over East Germany, while his last was on 7th July 1990, as the veteran goalkeeper failed to stop the hosts winning the third-place play-off at the World Cup in Italy, as they won 2-1.

Most capped outfield player: Wayne Rooney – 120 (2003-2018) – Wayne Rooney made his debut in a friendly on 12th February 2003 after coming on as a substitute against Australia. In doing so he at the time became the youngest player to play for England at the age of 17 years and 111 days. He played at three European Championships and three World Cups before announcing his retirement from England on 23rd August 2017 with 119 appearances for his country.

He did, however, come out of retirement for one match on Thursday 15th November 2018 when the Three Lions faced the USA at Wembley. Rooney came on in the 58th minute, replacing Jesse Lingard, with funds generated by the match going to the Wayne Rooney Foundation.

Most appearances as captain: Billy Wright and Bobby Moore, 90 – Two players hold the record for most appearances wearing the England armband: Wright, who featured for 70 matches in a row as skipper, and Moore, who famously lifted the 1966 World Cup.

Wright’s 70-match streak started in a 2-2 friendly draw with France at the Arsenal Stadium on 3rd October 1951 and ended in the 8-1 win against the USA at Wrigley Field on 28th May 1959.

Moore’s first match as England captain was on 29th May 1963 in just his 12th appearance for England – he was the youngest man ever to captain England at the highest level. England won 4-2 against Czechoslovakia. His last match was a 1-0 friendly defeat to Italy on 14th November 1973.

Longest international career: Sir Stanley Matthews – 23 years (1934-1957) – Forward Matthews made his England debut on 29th September 1934 as he scored a goal in their 4-0 win over Wales at Ninian Park in Cardiff in front of 51,000 people. His career was interrupted by World War II, but Matthews then resumed international duty, with his final appearance coming against Denmark in a 4-1 victory on 15th May 1957 in Copenhagen.

Matthews was the first-ever England player to be knighted.

Most goals for England: Wayne Rooney – 53 (2003-2018) – Rooney would become the youngest ever player to score for his country in his sixth appearance as he equalised in a Euro 2004 qualifying match win over Macedonia on 6th September 2003 at the age of 17 years and 317 days.

The Croxteth-born striker overtook Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals for England, which had lasted for 45 years, on 8th September 2015 scoring a penalty against Switzerland. He went onto score three more goals, with his last being in England’s 2-1 loss to Iceland at the 2016 European Championships.

Most appearances as a substitute: Jermain Defoe – 35 (2004-2017) – From the start of his international career, Defoe was utilised as a substitute, making his debut on 31st March 2004 under Sven-Göran Eriksson coming on in 12th minute for Darius Vassell. His final match for England came on 10th June 2017 as he came on in the final minute of stoppage time against Scotland.

Out of his 57 matches, only 22 were as a starter, though Defoe does have the record for most goals scored by a substitute to his name with seven. The last time he scored after coming off the bench was against Italy on 15th August 2012. He scored 20 times overall for England.

World Cup

Most goals at a World Cup: Gary Lineker– 10 goals in 12 matches (1986 & 1990) – As it stands, Match of the Day presenter Lineker is the highest scorer for England overall at World Cups with the striker going to Mexico 1986 and Italia 90.

England’s home – Wembley Stadium

He scored six in five matches in Mexico with his last being in a 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Argentina, while he managed four in seven in Italy, scoring the goal that took the semi-final to extra-time against Germany though the Three Lions went on to lose on penalties.

Of the current players in the team, Harry Kane could come close to Lineker’s record as, after the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Tottenham striker finished with six in six for England, therefore, needing five to beat his fellow Englishman.

Most World Cup’s scored in: David Beckham – 3 (1998 & 2002 & 2006) – As it stands, Beckham is the only England player to score in three World Cups. The attacking midfielder scored the first goal against Colombia in a group stage game in 1998, getting his second in a 1-0 win over Argentina in 2002, while final one came in a 1-0 win over Ecuador in the 2006 round of 16.

Most caps at major tournaments: Ashley Cole – 22 – Left-back Cole featured the most times for England at major tournaments after making his debut on 28th March 2001 in a 3-1 win over Albania in a World Cup qualifier. His first major tournament was 2002 World Cup where he played all five matches for his country; he went on to feature for the Three Lions at the 2004 and 2012 European Championships and the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

His final match at a major tournament was the 2012 European Championships where England and Italy drew 0-0 and then Italy scored all their penalties to win the shootout.

Current Players

Current players with the most appearances: Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling – 55 – Former skipper Henderson made his debut on 17th November 2010 at the age of 20 as England lost 2-1 to France, with him picking up a yellow card.

Sterling first played for the Three Lions on 14th November 2012 as England lost 4-2 to Sweden courtesy of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic masterclass as the striker scored all four. The winger was 17 when he played in the first match for his country.

Highest goalscorer still playing for England: Harry Kane – 28 goals (2015-current) – Just like his Tottenham career Kane burst onto the scene for England after making his debut on 27th March 2015 with the Spurs striker coming on as a substitute in 71st minute for captain Wayne Rooney, it took him two minutes to score his first goal for his national side.

Since then the striker has been a revelation for England being handed the armband for the first time on 10th June 2017 against Scotland and after Rooney retired, he’s been the leader ever since, scoring 28 goals in 43 games. In the 2018 World Cup Kane became only the third England player to score a hat-trick at the World Cup.

Current number of capped player for the Three Lions: 1,244 – For the 1,000th game, all players that have ever played for England have been handed legacy numbers with 1,244 players already putting on their nation’s shirt. The first three players to be capped by England were Robert Barker (1), with Harwood Greenhalgh the second and Reginald Welch the third. The three most recently capped players are Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi (1,242) and Mason Mount (1,243) and Aston Villa’s Tyrone (1,244).

Feature image of England Three Lions badge courtesy of Ben Terrett via Flickr Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wembley Stadium courtesy of Cushdy via Flickr Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0. Second Three Lions crest photo by Keith Williamson via Flickr Creative Commons.

Three players unlucky to miss out on England’s latest squad

When the England squad was announced on Sunday via Twitter for the Three Lions’ upcoming fixtures against Scotland and Spain, a host of frustrated names were omitted.

The likes of Jermain Defoe, Wilfried Zaha and Adam Forshaw to name a few, were all mentioned as players deserving of a call-up, especially compared to some of those selected by interim manager Gareth Southgate.

However, the decision to omit three other players in particular, continues to come under scrutiny – and rightly so.

Charlie Austin

After a lacklustre start to life at Southampton, Austin is now finally starting to replicate the form he displayed at QPR in the 2014-15 Premier League season.

So far this campaign across all competitions, the 27-year-old has registered more goals (eight) than any other England forward, making his exclusion from the England squad a surprise to most.

“Does Austin have the pace of Vardy or the technical finesse of Sturridge? Probably not, but in his current form he is arguably a more viable option than the pair”

The Southampton striker is outperforming both Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge, who have been called up as attacking options despite the different problems they are currently facing at their respective clubs, and Southgate’s failure to recognise such is a concern going forward.

Too often in the past with England, it has felt like that the inclusion of certain players has been based on club and reputation rather than form and, judging by this showing, things are unlikely to change should Southgate become Roy Hodgson’s permanent successor.

Does Austin have the pace of Vardy or the technical finesse of Sturridge? Probably not, but in his current form he is arguably a more viable option than the pair.

Nathan Redmond

Redmond
©Wikimedia Commons

Austin’s Southampton team-mate Redmond has also started the season in good fashion and can count himself unlucky to have been denied the opportunity to make the jump from the England Under-21s to the senior squad.

The 22-year-old is relishing the forward role Saints boss Claude Puel has been deploying him in, chalking up three Premier League goals in the process of forming a promising partnership with Austin.

Redmond’s £11m transfer from Norwich City in the summer is already being touted as one of the signings of the season and given his performances to date, it is a view that is not hard to fathom.

Like Austin’s predicament, it is difficult to understand why Redmond has not been called up bearing in mind some of Southgate’s other inclusions.

Despite operating as a striker since his transfer, Redmond is naturally a winger blessed with pace and great dribbling ability.

While Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott are likely to occupy the wide positions for England’s game against Scotland on Friday, Redmond would have been a solid option for Southgate to have and a much better alternative to Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard and Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend — who have both done nothing to warrant a call-up.

Redmond is far from the finished article. But Puel is crafting him into a fine and more consistent player, who without a doubt deserved to be included in England’s latest squad.

Ben Gibson

After a long absence from the Premier League, Middlesbrough can be pleased with how things have gone since their return to the top flight.

They sit 15th in the table and Aitor Karanka’s men have put in some good defensive performances of late to add to the five out of nine points they have collected in their most recent fixtures against Arsenal, Bournemouth and Manchester City.

©Middlesbrough FC’s official Instagram account

Central defender Gibson in particular has been singled out for praise, especially for his performance away at the Emirates in which he helped inspire his side to a point and clean sheet against an Arsenal team boasting the attacking talents of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and an in-form Walcott.

With that in mind, in addition to the current options England have at the back, Gibson’s omission from Southgate’s squad has raised eyebrows.

Chris Smalling is out injured, Gary Cahill has been shambolic when not playing in a back three (something England will not implement) and John Stones always looks like he has a costly mistake in him.

Then there is of course Phil Jagielka, likely to still be recovering physically and mentally from the battering he got from Diego Costa last Saturday in Everton’s 5-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Gibson should feel hard done by, he has done more than enough to earn the chance to win his first international senior cap.

Featured image: ©Southampton FC‘s official Instagram account