Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 29 January 2020

Nine charts to mark England's 1,000th international football match

The Three Lions will play in their 1,000th match in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday. Here's a look at how the international side has stayed successful for almost 150 years

The England national football team captain, George Wilson, leads his side out to face Scotland in Glasgow in April 1923. England will compete in its 1,000th international against Montenegro on November 14, 2019.  Photo by Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
The England national football team captain, George Wilson, leads his side out to face Scotland in Glasgow in April 1923. England will compete in its 1,000th international against Montenegro on November 14, 2019.  Photo by Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

England will be the first nation to complete 1,000 international football matches on Thursday when they look to seal qualification to next year's European Championship.

Incidentally, the Three Lions, who played in the first fixture against Scotland in 1872, will play one of world football's newest nations, Montenegro, who will be playing in their 97th match.

The English Football Association will mark the occasion by inviting World Cup winners, former captains and most capped players to Wembley. England will also adopt a legacy player numbering system, like Test cricket, for its current crop of footballers.

Here's a look at England's record in nine charts.

England's record

The England national football team in 1895. Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images
The England national football team in 1895. Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images

England have one of the most successful playing records in football.

From their 999 matches, they have won more than half of them and have lost just a fifth.

In competitive games, England have played 609 matches, winning 350, drawing 148 and losing 111.

England's record win came in 1882 when they trounced Ireland 13-0 in a friendly. Their heaviest defeat was a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Hungary in 1954. It marked the turning point in English football.

England v the world

The Three Lions, then, naturally don't lose many games, and their head-to-head record against their opposition is in their favour. Using englandstats.com's index, where a 100 per cent win-rate is 1.0 and an even record is 0.5, only five international teams currently enjoy a "positive" record over England. They are Brazil, Uruguay, Romania, Italy and the Netherlands.

England's record against old rivals Germany is currently hanging in the balance at 0.500 with 13 wins apiece and six draws. The world's oldest international fixture, against Scotland, has been played out 114 times, with England winning 48 to Scotland's 41.

England's record against Thursday's opponents, Montenegro, is 0.6250 after earning two wins and three draws against the eastern Europeans.

England v the Arab world

England have a mixed record against opponents from the Mena region. No country from the Middle East or North Africa has caused an upset. Algeria went closet, at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, playing out a dour 0-0 draw in the group stages.

Saudi Arabia have played out two draws in two friendlies, in 1988 and 1998, while Egypt have the worst record with three defeats.

England's historical ranking

The official Fifa rankings only date back to 1992. So it's a little unfair to judge England's performance when they were a force in early international football matches and they were the undisputed the best team in the world from their World Cup win in 1966 to about 1970. England currently sit fourth in the Fifa World Ranking. Their nadir was in 1995, when they dropped to 21st.

We have dug out data from football's Elo ratings. Elo, for the uninitiated, is a method of calculating skill levels in zero-sum games. When opponents play each other they take or lose points from each other.

This is England's Elo score since 1901:

And this England's historical ranking since 1901:

As you can see, England enjoyed the highest ranking in the early part of the 20th century. They dipped after the First World War after losing many great footballers to conflict. England rose to the top after winning the World Cup in 1966 before crashing down during its dark years of the 1970s when they failed to qualify for back-to-back global finals. The last time England were at the summit was in 1987.

The players

Wayne Rooney is England's record goalscorer with 53 international goals. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Wayne Rooney is England's record goalscorer with 53 international goals. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

England's top goalscorer is Wayne Rooney with 53 goals after he surpassed Bobby Charlton's long-standing record in 2015.

Here's a look at the top 10:

Peter Shilton, the long-time Leicester City and Nottingham Forest goalkeeper, is England's most capped player with 125 appearances. Rooney is the most capped outfield player with 120.

Goalkeeper Peter Shilton is England's record appearance holder with 125 caps. Photo by Mark Leech / Getty Images
Goalkeeper Peter Shilton is England's record appearance holder with 125 caps. Photo by Mark Leech / Getty Images

Here's the top 10:

Which clubs have produced the most England players?

Finally, let's look at which clubs are the driving force behind the England team. Unlike Spain or Germany, which is dominated by two or three clubs, an England team has historically been built on players from several clubs. For aspiring England stars, you've got a good chance of being picked for England if you play for Tottenham Hotspur. From the 1,244 players who have represented England, 77 have come from the North London club.

Updated: November 20, 2019 09:23 PM

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