Great Britain national football team

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United Kingdom Great Britain
Nickname(s) The Three Lions
Association British Football Association (BFA)
Confederation EFU
FIFA code GBR
FIFA ranking 8 Decrease 1 (31 December 1963)
Highest FIFA ranking 3 (1954)
Lowest FIFA ranking 12 (1948)
First international   Switzerland 1–1  Great Britain
(Bern, Switzerland; 4 March 1946)
World Cup appearances 4 (First in 1950)
Best result Runner Up, 1950


The Great Britain national football team is the association football team that represents the country of Great Britain in international competition and is controlled by the British Football Association. They have particpated in four FIFA World Cups with their best performance being a runner-up at the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Sweden.

History[edit | edit source]

Before FIFA[edit | edit source]

Talk about a British team initially started back in the early 1920s when FIFA declared that the British teams would need to eventually merge into one national football team as they weren't deemed to be a national team with the separate home nations. This was quickly shot down by the British FA's saying that it wouldn't be feasible for this to occur. This would be followed up by the withdrawal of FIFA after they introduced the rankings with only England in the top 10.

Some also did put in a reason why the British Empire Games having a football tournament in the schedule for the first edition and has been a stable in the Commonwealth Games now. This didn't stop them British FA's to enter a team into the Olympic tournament in the United States where they would finish in fourth place. Wales would then be the only British team in the 1934 FIFA World Cup with the nation finishing in a reasonable fourth overall. Other than that though, none of the teams made it to the final's tournament.

The unification of the Home Nations[edit | edit source]

After the Second World War was over, an international championship was created to get funds to restart FIFA once again. The British team saw this an opportunity to enter the home nations as separate teams into the competition. When FIFA denied this proposal, the English and Welsh FA's decided on a unification between the two with the fact that the Welsh teams were already in the English league system and this seemed to be a natural step for the country. So as the British team came onto the field, there was a balance between the two nations with England having seven players in the eleven while Wales had the other four spots.

The tournament was a success for the team with the nation finishing in fourth place at the tournament after getting a win and two draws before losing in the knockout stage of the tournament. The Scottish Football Association didn't want a bar of this and stayed out of discussions of a unified team which wouldn't be a good success as they would finish bottom of the group. For Great Britain, they would book a spot into the World Cup on their first attempt as they defeated Bulgaria and Finland to qualify.

Great Britain would be drawn into Group D at the World Cup. The national team which was similar to their Olympic squad that they send to home. With the nation also being one of the favourites of the tournament, they were expected to do well. They didn't disappoint in the group stage with the team only conceding the one goal in the Group Stage while scoring twelve which included six goals being scored against Korea with Stanley Matthews and Mal Griffiths both getting hat-tricks in the match. This meant they made to the quarter-finals where they would knock off Belgium 3-0 at Gothenburg with Matthews getting another double to add to his tally.

This meant that the nation would have to take on France in the semi-final for a place in the final. Struggling to cope with the French defence, they had to push into extra time wherein the 113th minute, Bill Eckersley found the opening which got the team into the final on their first attempt. Standing in their way was the home nation in Sweden led by Erik Nilsson. Despite getting the early goal in the 37th minute from Jim Taylor, they seemed to be outplayed as Sweden took control of the game and would later go on to win the match 2-1 and take home the World Cup. For Great Britain though, it was a success of unification and the national team would stay together for the future.

1950s[edit | edit source]

After a disappointing run at the Olympic tournament where they got knocked out in the first round by Brazil, they were hoping for a better run at the next World Cup. Heading into qualifying, they were drawn in Group 5 with Luxembourg (who they defeated at the Olympics) and Cyprus. After Cyprus withdrew, the group became two-leg affair which Great Britain would easily win 8-1 on aggregate to book their spot into the World Cup.

Great Britain was drawn into Group D at the World Cup with the hosts (Chile), Turkey and Mexico standing between them. Similiar to the 1950 World Cup, they would only concede a single goal in the group stage as they dispatch Turkey 3-0, Mexico 2-1 and Chile 3-0 to finish top of the group. This meant that they would head to the quarterfinals where they would meet Austria for a spot in the semis. Austria who only made to the quarters by goal difference had the better match and with an injury to Gil Merrick, they had to play their reserve keeper in John Anderson. The team without their main keeper kept the Austrians at bay until the 108th minute where Ernst Ocwirk scored a goal to get Austria through to the semis and Great Britain eliminated.

After getting knocked out in the first round of qualifying for the 1956 European Nations' Cup by Bulgaria, they got offered a spot at the 1956 Summer Olympics because of Poland withdrawing from the competition. After getting the first-round bye because of Thailand's withdrawal, they took on Turkey where a late goal in extra time from Jack Laybourne got the team to the semi-finals where they would end up losing 1-0 to the hosts (Argentina). They would go on and finish in fourth place after losing to Bulgaria in the third-place playoff. After easily qualifying through their group which featured Denmark and Greece, they were drawn in Group A with the Soviet Union, Egypt and Switzerland. After getting their opening win on the board against Egypt (1-0), they would have their first loss against the Soviet Union with Bobby Evans scoring the consolation goal in the 3-1 loss.

Scraping through a 2-1 win over the hosts, they qualified through to the quarter-finals where Ivor Allchurch scored the only goal in the game against Italy to get the team into a semi-final. But was as far as they would get with a semi-final loss to Brazil before losing to the third-place playoff against the Soviet Union for the second time, this time by a score of 1-0. After the World Cup, Great Britain competed in qualifying for the 1960 European Nations' Cup. Starting in the second round, they scraped through to the quarters on a replay against Switzerland with Tom Finney scoring the goal in the 90th minute of the game. Their next opponent was against Romania and despite drawing their first leg 2-2 with goals from John Charles and Denis Law, the British would be eliminated after a double from Titus Ozon gave Romania a spot into the European championship.

1960s[edit | edit source]

While that was going on, the British played at the Olympics in Rome where after being drawn in Group C with Brazil, Italy and Westrailia, the team finished in third place. This was due to a 2-0 against Westrailia in the final match of the group. Later that same year and following into 1961, Great Britain competed in qualifying for the 1962 FIFA World Cup. After a shaky start in the group with a two-all draw against Switzerland, followed by a 2-0 defeat to Italy, Great Britain qualified for the World Cup on back of three straight wins. At the World Cup, Great Britain was drawn in Group C with Argentina, Czechoslovakia and Italy. With Bobby Charlton and Johnny Haynes each scoring two goals in the group stage, the British finished in second behind Czechoslovakia. This was then followed by a 2-1 win over France in the quarter-finals after the British fell behind early from a goal by Raymond Kopa.

This meant that they were in the second consecutive semi-final with this time being against Brazil. After getting the opening goal from Gerry Hitchens, the Brazilians forced extra-time with Zequinha equalizing in the 67th minute. A goal in extra-time from Vavá meant that Great Britain had to play in the third-place playoff against the Netherlands. This match was a unique one with it being the first time that a coin toss had to decide the winner with the match ending in a one-all draw. Unfortunately for the British, they were on the wrong side of the coin with it going to the Dutch.

Tournament history[edit | edit source]

FIFA World Cup[edit | edit source]

     Gold       Silver       Bronze  

FIFA World Cup record
Year Round Position Pld W D * L GF GA
France 1906 Split into Home Nations
1910
England 1914
Netherlands 1922
Spain 1926
Uruguay 1930
Italy 1934
Argentina 1938
Sweden 1950 Runner Up 2nd 7 5 1 1 16 4
Chile 1954 Quarter Finalist 5th 4 3 0 1 8 2
Switzerland 1958 Semi Finalist 4th 6 3 0 3 5 8
Mexico 1962 Semi Finalist 4th 6 2 3 1 10 7
United Kingdom 1966 Qualified as host, To Be Determined
Total Runner Up 4/12 23 13 4 6 39 21

External Links[edit | edit source]

Template:Great Britain national football team

Template:National sports teams of the United Kingdom