Tag Archives: Wembley Stadium

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.

Wembley Stadium

How many grounds have England called home?

As England prepare to play their 1,000th international against Montenegro on November 14th at Wembley Stadium, Elephant Sport looks back at the many stadia that have hosted their home games down the years.

The home stadium for the England national team is Wembley, right? Sort of…

Over the last 147 years, England have led a nomadic existence when it comes to hosting games. In total, they have actually played at over 50 different grounds all around the country since their first match against Scotland in 1872.

That encounter – the world’s first football international fixture – took place at the West Scotland Cricket Club, and England staged their first home game against the Scots on March 30, 1872 at another cricket ground – The Oval in Kennington, London, which they won 4-2. 

The original Wembley Stadium, originally known as the Empire Stadium, opened in 1923, and up to that point (and even beyond it), the England team were on the road for their home matches.

Between the 1873 and 1924 they played nearly 70 home games at venues including Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, Anfield and Goodison Park in Liverpool, Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park and Villa Park in Birmingham. In total, England played in 19 nineteen different cities and 35 stadia in that era. 

England’s first home game not at The Oval came in 1881, when they were beaten 1-0 by Wales at the East Lancashire Cricket Club in Blackburn. By 1890, all their matches were being played at football stadia (although Bramall Lane was also used for cricket by Yorkshire until 1973).

From 1883-84 onwards, England hosted games in the British Home Championship against Scotland, Wales and Ireland (and then Northern Ireland are Irish independence). The competition last for 100 years.

Twin Towers

Another venue which hosted home matches in the early years of the 20th century was the White City Stadium, built for the 1908 Olympics in London. Only eight nations took part in the football competition, and 12 other sports were staged at the west London location during the Games.

A postcard of the original Wembley Stadium

After Wembley Stadium opened its turnstiles in 1923, England’s first match beneath the famous Twin Towers came in 1924 against the Auld Enemy, Scotland. Until 1951, Wembley only saw matches between England and Scotland but in that year the first big international game against Argentina was held at the stadium, with England winning 2-1.

Even after Wembley came into use, England still played many of their matches in other locations. Goodison Park in Liverpool was one of their favorites, playing seven games in total, winning four and drawing two. White Hart Lane was another lucky ground, with England winning all four of their internationals at Tottenham’s home.

After World War II, England’s games continued to be a moveable feast, and it wasn’t until the early-mid 1950s that the team really settled at Wembley. It was, of course, the scene of the first – and to date only – World Cup triumph, in 1966. The Three Lions played all their games during the tournament at Wembley, and stayed in north London 30 years later as England hosted Euro 96 and reached the semi-finals.

Wembley continued to host England games into the 21st century, but by then the old venue was starting to show its age, and was eventually deemed as unfit to be the home of English football. A decision was taken to demolish it and build a new stadium on the same site, meaning England had to go on their travels against between 2001 and 2007.

During that time, they played in 15 different stadia, eight of which had never hosted England internationals. Some 34 matches were spread around the country, bringing England closer to supporters outside of London.

England on tour

Given its size, Old Trafford in Manchester was the most used stadium during this time, hosting more than a dozen matches, including 2002 and 2006 World Cup qualifiers, and Euro 2004 and 2008 qualifying games.

The tour saw England team return to several cities for the first time in 5- years or more, and was considered a success, not only because it kept the money rolling in for the FA but also because the team engaged with fans all over the country.  

The new Wembley Stadium is a multipurpose venue

After several delays, the new Wembley Stadium was finally finished in 2007, and England’s inaugural match there on June 1st, ended in a 1-1 draw against Brazil.

Since then, England have definitely called Wembley home, but during the build-up to Euro 2016, they played two games outside of London; against Turkey at the Etihad Stadium and Australia at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. 

Ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England beat Costa Rica 2-0 in a friendly at Elland Road, Leeds, and after the tournament, Leicester City’s King Power Stadium hosted another friendly: a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

In September 2019, England staged a World Cup qualifier against Kosovo at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium, winning 5-3, but expect the vast majority of their matches to be played at the National Stadium – as Wembley is known these days – for the foreseeable future.

Here is a list of all of the grounds England have called home the past 147 years, with some interesting peculiarities:  

Alexandra Meadows, Blackburn – played in 1881; also was a cricket ground.

Leamington Road, Blackburn – played in 1885 and 1887; ground closed in 1890.

Ewood Park, Blackburn – played in 1891 and 1924; held three Women’s Uefa Championship games in 2005. 

Wellington Road, Birmingham – played in 1893; ground closed in 1897. 

Turf Moor, Burnley – played in 1927; one of the oldest football grounds still in use in the United Kingdom, second only to Deepdale and Bramall Lane. 

Bloomfield Road, Blackpool – played in 1932. 

Park Avenue, Bradford – played in 1909; also a cricket ground. 

Ashton Gate, Bristol – 1899 and 1913; also a rugby ground. 

Cricket Ground, Derby – played in 1895; hosted the first-ever FA cup final played outside London. 

Baseball Ground, Derby – played in 1911; demolished 2003.

Pride Park, Derby – played in 2001; fourth newest stadium to host England. 

Leeds Road, Huddersfield – played in 1946; since demolished, also a rugby league ground. 

Portman Road, Ipswich – played in 2003. 

Elland Road, Leeds – played in 1995, 2002 and 2018 – being one of the oldest in the country to still be in use, also a rugby league venue. 

King Power Stadium, Leicester – played in 2003 and 2018; newest stadium in the Premier League along the Etihad Stadium. 

Liverpool Cricket Ground, Liverpool – played in 1883; also a cricket ground. 

Anfield, Liverpool – played in 1889, 1905, 1922, 1926, 1931, 2001, 2002 and 2006.

Goodison Park, Liverpool – played in 1895, 1907, 1911, 1924, 1928, 1935, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1953 and 1966 – held three games in the 1966 World Cup. 

The Oval Kennington, London – played during 1873 to 1889 – first stadium England called home; their original home ground. 

Athletic Ground Richmond, London – played in 1893; a rugby field. 

Queen’s Club, West Kensington, London – played in 1895; now famous as a tennis venue. 

Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace, London – played in 1897, 1901, 1905, 1909 and 1926. 

Craven Cottage, Fulham, London – played in 1907. 

The Den, New Cross, London – played in 1911; demolished in 1993 and rebuilt 2010. 

Stamford Bridge, London – played in 1913, 1929 and 1932; also staged cricket, rugby, baseball, speedway, boxing, American football and greyhound racing. 

Arsenal Stadium, Highbury London – played in 1920, 1923, 1931, 1936, 1938, 1947, 1948, 1950 and 1951 – held 1962 FIFA World Cup qualification; demolished in 2006. 

White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London – played in 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1949; demolished in 2017. 

Boleyn Ground, Upton Park, London – played in 2003; demolished in 2017. 

White City Stadium, London – played in 1909; demolished in 1985. 

Wembley Stadium, London – played in since 2007 and current home.

Whalley Range, Manchester – played in 1885.

Old Trafford, Manchester – played in 1926, 1938, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 – second biggest capacity in the United Kingdom. Has held FA Cup semi-finals, World Cup games, Champions League final, Euro Cup games.

Maine Road, Manchester – played in 1946 and 1949 – demolished in 2004. When opened, it was the biggest stadium in England and the second largest after Wembley. 

City of Manchester Stadium (Etihad Stadium), Manchester – played in 2004 and 2016 – Newest Stadium along with the King Power Stadium. Used for the 2002 Commonwealth Games then reconfigured for football. 

Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough – played in 1905, 1914 and 1937; demolished in 1996; a venue for games at the 1966 World Cup.  

Riverside, Middlesbrough – played in 2003; record of attendance (35,000) for England v Slovakia. 

St James’ Park, Newcastle – played in 1901, 1907, 1933, 1938, 2001, 2004 and 2005; held 2002 and 2006 World Cup qualification games.

Trent Bridge, Nottingham – played in 1897; famous as a cricket ground. 

City Ground, Nottingham – played in 1909; hosted Euro 96 games. 

Fratton Park, Portsmouth – played in 1903; an Olympic venue in 1948.

Bramall Lane, Sheffield – played in 1883, 1887, 1897, 1903 and 1930; considered to be the oldest football stadium in the world.

Hillborough, Sheffield – played in 1920 and 1962. 

The Dell, Southampton – played in 1901; closed in 2001. The first ground to have permanent floodlighting installed. 

St. Mary’s, Southampton – played 2002 and 2019.

Victoria Ground, Stoke-on-Trent – played in 1889, 1893 and 1936; demolished in 1997. 

Newcastle Road, Sunderland – played in 1891; closed in 1998. 

Roker Park, Sunderland – played in 1899, 1920 and 1950; closed and demolished in 1998 but then remade. 

Stadium of Light, Sunderland – played in 1999, 2003 and 2016; replaced Roker Park as Sunderland’s home.

Molineux, Wolverhampton – played in 1891, 1903, 1936 and 1956 – it has a long story and was one of the first stadiums to install artificial lights. Also first to host European Cup matches in 1950. 

The Hawthorns, West Bromwich – played in 1922 and 1924. 

Feature image by Michael Day via Flickr Creative Commons under licence CC BY-NC 2.0. Old Wembley postcard by ca1951rr under licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Panoramic shot of Wembley by AKinsey Foto under licence CC BY-NC 2.0.

Three Lions badge

Before 1,000: every hundredth game of the Three Lions

England’s men’s football team will play their 1,000th international on November 14th when they face Montenegro in a Europe Championship qualifier at the Wembley Stadium.

In the long history of the Three Lions, every hundredth game in the past 147 years is worthy of marking. They are milestones of this team’s history, glories, and span the memories of fans from across the generations.

1st game: Scotland 0-0 England, 30 November 1872


The first game that England played dates back to 147 years ago. The Three Lions’s 0-0 draw against Scotland was also the first-ever official international football match in the world. This historic game was hosted at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland, which was actually the home of the West of Scotland Cricket Club.

100th game: England 2-0 Wales, 15 March 1909

It took England 27 years to reach the milestone of their 100th game, and it came against Wales in the 1908-09 Home International Championship. The Three Lions won 2-0 won against the Dragons at Nottingham Forest’s home stadium, the City Ground.

200th game: England 3-0 Germany, 4 December 1935

England’s 200th game was a friendly versus Germany at White Hart Lane, the home of Tottenham Hotspur in north London. England beat their opponent from the continent with a 3-0 scoreline.

300th game: England 3-0 Northern Ireland, 2 November 1955

By the time England’s 300th match came around – with a long interruption due to World War II – the national team’s established home was the original Wembley Stadium, which opened in 1923.

The hosts defeated Northern Ireland 3-0 in 1955-56 Home International Championship, but the competition ended with all four teams sharing the trophy after they finished level on points (goal difference was not used at the time).

400th game: Finland 0-3 England, 26 June 1966

The 400th game for Three Lions was a World Cup warm-up against Finland at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium. Ian Callaghan, the record holder of most appearances for Liverpool, made his debut for England in this match.

The visitors’ goals came from Martin Peters, Roger Hunt and Jack Charlton as England geared up for the winning the World Cup on home soil the following month.

500th game: Scotland 2-1 England, 15 May 1976

England’s 500th match did not have a happy ending. In the last game of 1975/76 Home International Championship, the Three Lions were defeated by the Auld Enemy at Hampden Park in Glasgow; a result which saw the delighted hosts lift the trophy.

600th game: Scotland 1-0 England, 25 May 1985

There are many similarities between England’s 600th game and 500th game: the same opponent, the same stadium (Hampden Park, Glasgow), and the same result—the Three Lions lost again and allowed Scotland to win the first Rous Cup.

This short-lived competition initially included just England and Scotland, but from 1987-89 also featured a guest nation from South America. Brazil, Colombia and Chile all took part before the tournament was ended.

700th game: England 3-0 Poland, 8 September 1993

The Three Lions defeated Poland in their 700th game in a qualifier for the 1994 Fifa World Cup at Wembley Stadium. It was a crucial game for the hosts as they had failed to win their previous three matches, threatening their hopes of reaching the World Cup Finals the following year.

Les Ferdinand, Paul Gascoigne and Stuart Pearce netted for England, but the qualifying campaign was ultimately unsuccessful. Graham Taylor’s team finished third in Group 2 of the European Zone and failed to reach USA 94, ending Taylor’s three-year reign as manager.

800th game: Liechtenstein 0-2 England, 29 March 2003

England got a victory in their 800th match in a 2004 European Championship qualifier at the Rheinpark Stadium in Vaduz, courtesy of goals from by Michael Owen and David Beckham. This is also the first time that England had played against Liechtenstein.

900th game: Montenegro 2-2 England, 7 October 2011

The Three Lions could only managed a draw in their 900th game at the Podgorica City Stadium in Podgorica. Wayne Rooney’s red card in the 73rd minute made him become the second England player to get two red cards in his international career. Coincidently, Montenegro will be England’s opponents again in the upcoming 1,000th game.

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

Three Lions badge

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.

Wembley dream over as Not for Me Clive go out of FA People’s Cup

For the second consecutive year, my team, Not For Me Clive FC,  participated in the FA People’s Cup at the Shoreditch Power League.

The People’s Cup is a superbly organised event run on behalf of the FA. This national five-a-side football tournament is free to enter and welcomes male, female and disabled players from under-14s to veterans.

It’s a fun but competitive environment, with all games lasting ten minutes.

The tournament starts at hundreds of 5-a-side centres across the country, with the winners from each one gradually moving through the competition to regional qualifiers, and the eventual final being played at Wembley Stadium in April.

Clive and kicking

Last year’s People’s Cup performance saw our team lose every single game, after being placed in one of the most difficult groups in the history of the competition.

When my cousin Alex created the team WhatsApp group at the beginning of the year, it was time to prepare for the Cup all over again. We couldn’t do any worse than last year… could we?

But this year was a new year, a new team, and a new team name: Not for Me Clive FC.

With the addition of my cousin Robert, previously of Southend United and recently returning from a football College in Canada, the team’s expectations of success were somewhat higher than in 2017.

Football focus: The Clive ‘keeper Harry sporting eye-catching gloves

Shoreditch sensation

After months of anticipation, we arrived at Shoreditch Power League on a freezing cold afternoon alongside hundreds of other players, kitted out in base-layers, gloves and hats, eager to get playing.

Following a sizing up of the competition, our group was announced. Our team name was the only one of any comedy value, so it became evident we were going to be playing serious teams with experience and ability.

On the back of a brief warm-up of dynamic and static stretching and a few shots at the goalkeeper, we were ready to play our first game.

“Up the Clive!” shouted Alex, our manager/captain/general day organiser, as we kicked off against a side in actual matching kits, opposed to our mish-mash of red coloured tops. ‘They must be decent,” I thought.

A tense, cagey affair, we went 1-0 up through a tidy finish from yours truly. A goal! We were winning a game! An FA People’s Cup first for our team. All we had to do was hold on.

Then came an unbelievable moment. The ball fell to me in our own half with seconds remaining. The score still 1-0, I tried my luck at a Tony Yeboah-esque thunderbolt.

The ball flew past the opposing defenders and goalkeeper into the top corner of the net. Teams from the side-line applauded the finish, and the final whistle blew. Two-nil to the Clive, and a 5-a-side career highlight for myself.

The next few games saw us draw one, lose one, and win two; keeping us in the race for top spot. Our Wembley dream was still alive.

Parking the bus

As the late-February sun set in Shoreditch, we took to the pitch for our must-win decider. It was win or bust.

Charlie in action during the first game, pre-wonder goal

I’m sure their manager had been taking notes from Jose Mourinho, and we witnessed a possible moment in history: the first team to park the bus on a 5-a-side pitch.

Almost impossible to break down and score against, the game ended in a 1-1 draw, and it was time to call it a day, at least until next year. We were proud of how we had done, it was a sure improvement on last year.

‘The ball flew past the opposing goalkeeper into the top corner’

As they say, though, every cloud has a silver lining. There was an underlying sense of relief amongst the Clive team after our elimination, with the entire side looking near frozen.

With most of the side Arsenal supporters, it was time to hit the pub, watch the Carabao Cup Final, and have a well-deserved pint.

It was only at full-time after watching the Gunners embarrass themselves against Man City, that one of the boys proudly announced: “The Clive would’ve put up more of a fight than that!”

Despite the heart-breaking exit right at the death, it was a fantastic event once again, and we will be sure to be back competing stronger than ever next year.

England Three Lions

Five things that need to change for England

After years of England underachieving in major tournaments, many Three Lions fans find themselves looking ahead to the 2018 World Cup Finals expecting little from their team beyond yet more failure.

If that sounds a bit harsh, cast your mind back to Euro 2016, and the implosion against Iceland – a country with a population of just 332,000.

That defeat sounded the death knell for manager Roy Hodgson, who also oversaw two losses and a draw (0-0 against Costa Rica) at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Understated current boss Gareth Southgate doesn’t play hype game, and has some decent young players at his disposal, but few believe England will really shine in Russia.

It may be too late for this summer, but there are still some things that could be put in place to boost their prospects on the biggest stages.

Winter break

It’s a commonly held belief that the likes of Spain Germany, France and Italy tend to do better at major tournaments because their domestic leagues take a mid-season winter break.

The argument runs that this gives players a chance to recharge their batteries, get over niggling injuries, and feel less burnt out come the end of the campaign.

There are, indeed, plenty of players getting injured during the December-January, when the Premier League fixtures come thick and fast, particularly over the festive period.

In December 2016, 113 missed games due to injury, and the figure rose in January 2017 to 143. There was 150 hamstring injuries in the 16/17 season which resulted in a total of 4,165 days missed.

England often go into tournaments missing key players through injury, or praying that no-one else picks up a knock in the early games.

Mind you, even without injuries, England performances in tournaments are often described as fatigued and boring.

Some claim the relentless physicality of the Premier League takes it toll, but is this – and not having a winter break – just a poor excuse for England’s underachievement?

Squad selection

Players are often picked on reputation and get the benefit of the doubt if they play for one of the so-called bigger teams; a prime example of this is Jordan Henderson.

His selection in the England squad is baffling when based on current form, and Southgate should now take him out of his plans and be ruthless like he was with Wayne Rooney.

Right now, players such as Jack Wilshere, Harry Winks and Eric Dier all offer more. Dropping Henderson and Gary Cahill would be just the start.

We’ve also had players switch allegiances. The main one that comes to mind is Wilfred Zaha, who represented England at under-19, under-21 and full international level in friendlies before opting to play for the country of his birth, Ivory Coast.

England have no one like him; skilful, pacy and unpredictable, someone who loves to take on and beat players.

Because his career at Manchester United didn’t work out for whatever reason, he found himself back at Crystal Palace putting in great performances but still being ignored by England which eventually led to him playing for Les Elephants.

What we will most likely see in the next major tournament is Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck being thrown out on the left wing, even though he is naturally a number nine, because he ‘works hard’ off the ball. It’s easy to see why Zaha made the decision to switch.

Taking responsibility

The players also need to take more responsibility. Making sure that they are mentally and physically able to deal with the expectations of international football is something that is forefront.

Good performances at major tournaments is key to re-gaining the enthusiasm of England fans.

One of the major things that has kept England from moving forward is the way they play. Being able to think for themselves is something that is easy to avoid at a club level, but it’s where the problems start in the international game.

England’s failure to express themselves under pressure, and actually looking scared to fail, has left them playing in stagnant, robotic patterns.

Compare England to a team like Wales who, although they only have one stand-out player in Gareth Bale, have a fearless and hardworking attitude that served them well at Euro 2016, beating Belgium, who were favourites to win the tournament, and then losing to eventual winners Portugal in the semi -finals.

If England take more risks and try to win games rather than trying not to lose them, they might stand a better chance.

High targets

The feeling exists that because the Premier League is deemed the best league in the world (which is a debate for another day), England should at least make the semi-finals at major tournaments.

But if you dig a bit deeper, you realise that most of the Premier League teams have large numbers of players from different countries playing for them.

Nearly 70% of players in the EPL are actually foreign, and this doesn’t leave much room for the young English talent to come through.

Prime examples of this are two of Chelsea’s many young players out on loan, Tammy Abraham and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Both have not really been given a fair crack at Stamford Bridge because the club would rather go out and buy tried-and-tested foreign talent than giving their academy prospects a chance.

It is understandable that fans demand their clubs recruit world-class players, but if they don’t promote homegrown young players, the team that really suffers is England.

Without getting first team experience in the league and European competitions under their belt, the best young English players won’t realise their potential.

Do the fans care anymore?

Due to England’s lack of achievement, many in their fanbase England have lost interest in the team. Wembley is a great stadium but hardly ever sells out, and attendances are significantly lower for friendlies.

In my opinion, what would revive the interest in England is if the team went on the road.

By playing international matches all around the country, the team would reconnect with their fans, much as they did in the interim period when the new Wembley Stadium was being built.

England’s recent success at age-group tournaments shows they have reasons to be optimistic about the future, but only if these action points are turned in reality.

England Three Lions photo by Keith Williamson via Flickr Creative Commons under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Sanchez fails to inspire as Man Utd falter at Wembley

A blustery winter’s night failed to deter fans from flocking to Wembley for Tottenham’s crucial clash with Manchester United.

A new record Premier League attendance of 81,978 was drawn to the national stadium, but anyone taking their seats late because of the crowds missed a flying start by Spurs.

Wembley Stadium before a record PL crowd of nearly 82,000 filled the stadium

The build-up to the game had been dominated by the buzz surrounding the visitors’ latest recruit, Alexis Sanchez, with their fans confident the former Arsenal star’s goals and assists would justify his £500,00-a-week wages (plus Henrik Mkhitaryan heading to the Gunners in a swap deal).

But that pre-match optimism was extremely short-lived as Spurs scored straight from the kick-off, stunning United’s sizeable away following into silence.

It took just 11 seconds for Christian Eriksen to get on the end of flicks from Harry Kane and Dele Alli and side-foot home the joint-third fastest goal ever scored in the Premier League.

Spurs seemed to sense that that Jose Mourinho’s men were not at the races after returning to top-flight action following their routine win five days earlier at Yeovil in the FA Cup third round.

United had chances to equalise with Jesse Lingard coming close, however Mauricio Pochettino’s men were attacking at such a pace that it came as no surprise when Phil Jones turned Kieran Trippier’s cross into his own net to double their lead and effectively end the contest with barely 30 minutes on the clock.

Sanchez fails to shine

The United faithful didn’t even have the consolation of seeing Sanchez shine on his Premier League debut for their team.

The Chilean international delivered an anonymous performance, much to the delight of Tottenham’s fans, who gave him the kind of hostile reception they reserve for former Arsenal players.

Of course, Sanchez has yet to gel with his new team-mates, most of whom were similarly below par at Wembley, and the pressure on him to make an immediate impact was unfair.

The former Barcelona star was barely visible as he was continually harried by white shirts.

Manchester United train ahead of the game

After a poor opening 45 minutes on the left-hand side, Mourinho sought to change the momentum as he moved the 29-year-old into the number 10 role.

However, the switch came to nothing, as Tottenham’s sturdy defence kept the United’s new acquisition quiet throughout.

Good value

So it was a night to forget for United fans, with many leaving well before the final whistle, having seen their team out-played, out-thought and out-fought all over the pitch.

At least they had the consolation of only paying £30 to witness one of the Red Devils’ poorest performances of the season.

In previous campaigns, the cost of watching football – particularly for away fans – has been a hot topic of debate.

However, the Premier League made a breakthrough in 2016 when all 20 clubs agreed to cap away tickets at £30.

To watch Spurs dismantle United, with so many fine players on display on both sides, for that price was a bargain.

Whether the massive outlay invested in bringing Sanchez to Old Trafford ultimately comes to be viewed as value for money is another matter.

United’s defeat leaves them 15 points adrift of rivals Manchester City, with Mourinho admitting the title is now out of reach. Spurs moved to within two points of the top four.

Wembley’s hospitality fare leaves an empty feeling

If anything is worth rising at 8am on a cold Sunday morning in November, sacrificing the sanctity of tea and biscuits in bed with the morning papers, it’s Premier League football.

I’m off to the far-from-biggest London derby – but a derby all the same – Spurs v Crystal Palace. And it’s not just the entertainment on the field that has pulled me wearily away from my duvet.

Regardless of age, sex, colour or creed, the sense of occasion on match day, even as a neutral with no particular vested interest in the outcome, is unique. It’s compounded by the array of food, drink and entertainment on offer at football grounds nowadays which caters for even the most disinterested fan.

It’s not new to cite evidence of football’s gentrification, but clubs are increasingly embracing the lucrative lure of the hospitality industry.

Wembley – along with all other newly-built concrete bowl stadia – was designed with the more discerning ‘FAN’ (ie, ‘customer’) in mind.

Princely sum

Whether you like it or not, clubs need to maximise their multi-million pound investments in new stadia by offering a variety of options to cater for their demographically diverse fan base.

The Tunnel Club at Manchester City

New features such as the Tunnel Club at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium allow fans to get as close to the behind-the-scenes action as possible by installing glass along the tunnel, allowing them to watch from the dinner table as players exchange pre-match pleasantries, for the princely sum of £7,500 per season.

The Three Lions Club at Wembley, where I am spending a couple of hours before the midday kick off, is – at £129 – admittedly not the finest hospitality ‘experience’ the national stadium has to offer.

On arrival, my hopes of enjoying a fresh cup of coffee whilst taking in the great landscape views of Greater London were instantly quashed.

With no hot drink facilities in my lounge, I was instructed to try the ordinary Club Wembley refreshments kiosk. At last – a cup (disposable) of joe (£2.80).

Atmosphere

The Three Lions Lounge

Perhaps leading up to a 4.30pm kick-off, guests would have welcomed a rip-roaring band belting out renditions of Tom Petty and The Killers to create some atmosphere as pints were sipped and chins wagged.

But with doors opening and tunes ringing out from 9.30am – a full two-and-half hours before kick-off – guests would surely have far preferred the sound of their own actual thoughts, or hearing their companions, over the piercing speakers.

Maybe my restlessness could be attributed to not having eaten (more likely the slight hangover).

I went to the hot counter where I duly exchanged my complimentary ‘one food voucher’ for a thick-cut bacon roll, served with two hash browns and a small pot of ketchup. This was decent. Tender, succulent bacon and sufficiently oily hash browns.

Service was generally good and helpful. As a neutral, awkward questions did arise like when one hostess asked “Would you like a Tottenham poppy?”I replied “No thanks, I’ve already got a poppy,” gesturing to my coat collar. The cockerel-emblazoned flower wouldn’t go down well at dinner later with my Arsenal-supporting family.

The match

At 11.30am, I took my seat to watch the players finishing their warm-ups. It was a great seat, almost level with the halfway line and in the second tier with a great perspective over the pitch.

Best seats in the house

Looking at the team sheet, the big news was that Michel Vorm, meant to be coming in for the injured Hugo Lloris, had been withdrawn. Third-string keeper Paulo Gazzaniga, whom Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino brought in last summer, made his debut.

At a football match in early November, you expect to smell fresh cut grass with an undercurrent of hot dog meat and onions. At Wembley, it’s the opposite.

At least this seemed metaphorically true in my head – such is the culture of the stadium mired in corporatisation.

Pochettino spoke before the match of the importance of “keeping their feet on the grass” after Spurs’ incredible win against European champions, Real Madrid, on Wednesday.

Palace fans predictably made for a good atmosphere throughout the afternoon, banging drums and waving flags, but they were ultimately not repaid with a goal from their team.

Chances

The highlight of the first half was a fingertip save by Gazzaniga – from the same town in Argentina as Pochettino it turns out – denying Palace captain Scott Dann’s header towards the back post.

The keepers’ acrobatics were spectacular in what was otherwise a half of football so drab that retreating back to the Three Lions lounge at half-time for a bottle of Carlsberg and a couple more numbers from the unidentified cover band seemed great fun.

The second half proved slightly more exciting from the start with Eagles’ striker Wilfried Zaha finally beating Gazzaniga but failing to hit the open goal, right in front of the travelling supporters.

In the 64th minute, Spurs, missing playmaker Dele Alli to injury, did eventually get the breakthrough with an inch-perfect strike from outside the box by Heung Min Son into the bottom left corner.

Just minutes before, one fan next to me spoke of his surprise at the goalless score line. “If its still 0-0 at 60 mins and the odds are decent I’m whacking £500 on us to win”, he said nudging me with his elbow as if it was a cert.

I suppose you need something to up the ante of such a dry affair. Sure enough, said punter erupted upon Son’s superb effort bulging the net.

I left in the 80th minute to beat the crowds, with not a slightest concern of missing any drama. Trudging back down Wembley Way I reflected on a mediocre day at Wembley. Maybe I should have stayed in bed after all.

‘Football brings people together’

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Just four days after the Paris terror attacks, England hosted France in an international friendly at Wembley.

The match went ahead amid tight security in north London after the France v Germany game at the Stade de France was among the targets on November 13.

Elephant Sport’s Calvin Morgan and Ashleigh Chirwa went to the national stadium to talk to fans ahead of the fixture about the effect of the attacks on their attitude towards attending major sporting events.

With Euro 2016 now just seven months away, are supporters concerned about the tournament being hosted by France?

Reporter: Calvin Morgan; video shot and edited by Calvin Morgan and Ashleigh Chirwa.