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1,000 England international matches: the highs and the lows – in pictures

There have been some great moments in England international history, but also some awful times. Here's the pick of the best and the worst

England play their 1,000th senior international against Montenegro on Thursday, when a Wembley win will ensure participation in Euro 2020.

It is a significant milestone, and along the way England have frustrated (mostly), but also recorded some memorable achievements.

To be an England follower is never straightforward, that's for sure. Expect an easy win and be let down. Look forward to goals and spend 90 minutes biting your nails and staring at a 0-0 deadlock. Demand new managers, only to witness the same old story when the old one is fired.

However, England do also get it right now and then And after 1,000 games there have been some massive highlights. After all, they did win the World Cup in 1966...

Here The National's Dominic Hart and Gareth Cox look at some favourite personal high points, and some not so favourite low points.


England 4 West Germany 2, World Cup final, July 30, 1966

It's the law. You can't review England's football history without reference to the greatest moment ever, even if you didn't see it. It was the pinnacle, the zenith, and may never be equalled the way the Three Lions often stumble at major finals and the quality of opposition they now face. The game went to extra-time, and a Geoff Hurst hat-trick ensured the Wembley crowd witnessed football coming home. It hasn't been back since.

Germany 1 England 5, World Cup qualifying, September 1, 2001

England had been beaten by the hosts 1-0 at home in the old Wembley's last game in the reverse fixture. Germany hadn’t lost a World Cup qualifier since 1985 and hadn’t lost at the Olympiastadion in Munich since 1973. Basically Sven Goran Eriksson's side were destined to lose, heavily. Queue a miraculous result and pandemonium. Germany even took the lead! Then a hat-trick from Michael Owen, and goals from Steven Gerrard (his first for England) and Emile Heskey ensured one of the greatest nights in Three Lions history.

England 1 Argentina 0, World Cup finals, June 7, 2002

Believe me, England just didn't win games like this. Not since 1966 had England beaten one of the game's superpowers on the World Cup stage. Four years before David Beckham was sent off against the same opposition for kicking Diego Simeone. But a Beckham penalty and plenty of shredded nerves and valiant defending in the second half saw home a tremendous result. "We played with a big, big heart, and that's very important in football," said manager Eriksson.

England 4 Netherlands 1, European Championship, June 18, 1996

Se we had been wrong all those years. England DID have a great side. This was a breathtaking display at Wembley as England played with passion, pride and, well, like the Dutch at their best. And the Dutch had no answer. Football came home in style when Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham inspired a victory that turned Euro 96 into a national party. Terry Venables appeared to be the manager that had the answers. Only for heartbreak in the semi-final.

England 1 Colombia 1, World Cup finals, July 3, 2018

Not the greatest match, certainly. Not the most accomplished opposition, undoubtedly. But it was a result that offered all England followers hope that success might, just might, happen again one day. This was a round of 16 match, and England led through Harry Kane's penalty until a late equaliser, extra time and then penalties. The dreaded penalties, which England always lost. Only this time it was different, much to a nation's relief, and they went on to make the last four, just 90 minutes from a World Cup final. Maybe one day.


England 1 Iceland 2, Euro 2016 last 16, June 2016

The match that signalled an embarrassing end to the reign of Roy Hodgson as England manager. Iceland, with a population of just 329,000 and playing in their first international tournament, humiliated an England side containing the likes of captain Wayne Rooney, Dele Alli and Harry Kane. Rooney's fourth-minute penalty in Nice proved a false dawn as goals from Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson earned Iceland a famous win. Former England striker Alan Shearer said: "That was the worst performance I've ever seen from an England team. Ever."

England 2 Croatia 3, Euro 2008 qualifier, November 2007

A sensational game but another disastrous end for an England manager – this time Steve McClaren on a rain-sodden night at Wembley. McClaren would also go on adopt the unfortunate moniker of the 'wally with a brolly' after deciding the watch the match from under an umbrella. “That might not look great boss”, assistant manager Terry Venables supposedly tried to warn the former Manchester United coach, to no avail. A terrible blunder by goalkeeper Scott Carson gifted Croatia an eighth-minute lead after he failed to stop a speculative Nico Kranjcar effort from 30 yards, before Ivica Olic made it two soon after. Goals from Frank Lampard, a penalty, and Peter Crouch dragged the home side level but Mladen Petric sealed England's – and McClaren's – fate with a 25-yard winner. Defeat meant a failure to qualify for the finals in Austria and Switzerland, while McClaren was sacked.

United States 1 England 0, World Cup group stage, June 1950

A result that shook the footballing world to its foundations. Walter Winterbottom's side entered their first finals as favourties and contained illustrious names such as Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney and Billy Wright. But the USA team of amateur and semi-professional players – including a postman, mill-worker and funeral director – ran out shock 1-0 winners in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, courtesy of a Joe Gaetjens goals. England player Wilf Mannion would later say: "Our lads were dejected and humiliated. They just couldn’t believe it, the shock of it ... The [headline] in the British press was, ‘Disaster area.'"

England 0 Republic of Ireland 1, Euro 1988 group stage, June 1988

A fitting start of a miserable tournament for Bobby Robson's men in Germany. Playing in their first tournament finals and managed by former England World Cup winning defender Jack Charlton, the Irish were huge underdogs. Robson said England had their “best squad for six years” and were considered potential winners. "We’re not expected to do anything in this competition," said Charlton before the match. "We just hope to surprise a few people.” After just six minutes, Ray Houghton had looped a header past Peter Shilton to put Ireland into a lead they would never lose. The likes of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Gary Lineker and Bryan Robson could find no way past the green wall and a famous victory was sealed. England would go on to lose 3-1 to the Netherlands and USSR and finish bottom of the group. Robson was lucky to avoid the sack.

Norway 2 England 1, World Cup qualifier, September 1981

Ron Greenwood's side still reached the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, but this defeat in Oslo against Norway's part-timers – who finished bottom of the qualifying group – still stung badly. Bryan Robson had put the visitors, whose starting line-up also included two-time European Footballer of the Year Kevin Keegan, Glenn Hoddle and Terry McDermott, into an early lead, before Tom Lund and Hallvar Thoresen flipped the script. The win would spark Norwegian TV journalist Bjorge Lillelien into producing some of the most iconic football commentary of all time: "Lord Nelson! Lord Beaverbrook! Sir Winston Churchill! Sir Anthony Eden! Clement Attlee! Henry Cooper! Lady Diana! Maggie Thatcher – can you hear me, Maggie Thatcher? Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating."

Updated: November 14, 2019 04:16 PM



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