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Published 30 November 2022 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

150 years of the England men's senior team

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

The England men's senior team hit the 150th anniversary of their first international on Wednesday 30 November 2022


The date of 30 November 1872 will forever be etched in the history of English football as the day international football began, when England took on Scotland in Glasgow.

Taking place at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, the match itself ended in a 0-0 draw, and the history of the England men's national team began.

Since then, the Three Lions have gone on to feature in 1039 international games, with the most recent coming at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on the eve of the anniversary when Gareth Southgate's team beat Wales by 3-0 in Doha to reach the last 16 of the competition.

And there was another piece of history added in that game, as England scored their 100th World Cup goal as they headed into the knockout stages in Qatar.

It's fair to say we've had many ups and downs over the course of the last century and a half, with the pinnacle being our World Cup victory at Wembley in 1966, when Sir Geoff Hurst's hat-trick helped Alf Ramsey's team to a 4-2 victory over West Germany to seal our first and only World Cup title so far.

To help celebrate the anniversary, our charity partners at the Alzheimer's Society have released a list of England's most memorable moments as voted for by fans. 

Remember, you can see the full list of results for the men's senior team and the complete list of players to have represented the Three Lions on our Legacy page.

And as we celebrate the anniversary of when it all began, we've compiled some of the interesting facts and figures from our men's team's history.

30 Nov 2022 1:29

Beckham's last-minute goal against Greece

See the famous free-kick which was voted one of England's most memorable moments

- England have played in 26 major tournaments (16 World Cups, 10 European Championships), with their one tournament victory coming in 1966 when the World Cup was held in England. They have only failed to qualify for one of their last 12 tournaments, finishing third in their qualification group for EURO 2008 behind Croatia and Russia.

- England’s best run of wins was between 1908 and 1909, winning ten games in a row with a sequence that started and ended with wins over Austria. Post-war, England’s longest run has stood at eight matches, achieved twice – between March and September 2003 and October 2005 and June 2006.

- England have won 597 of their 1039 matches, with their first win a 4-2 victory over Scotland in March 1873 at Kennington Oval in London.

- England’s heaviest defeat was in May 1954, losing 7-1 away at Hungary in Budapest under Walter Winterbottom, just six months after losing 6-3 against the Hungarians at Wembley.

- England have played 308 games at Wembley, 268 more than they’ve played at any other stadium. Between April 1924 and April 1951, England only faced Scotland at Wembley – the first non-Scottish team to face England were Argentina in May 1951, a 2-1 win.

- Before Wembley, England’s home matches were shared between 36 different stadiums. In total, England have played a home international on 54 grounds, with Old Trafford the most played at bar Wembley, hosting 17 home internationals. There’s been none there since the new Wembley was opened in 2007 with the last international being a 1-0 defeat to Spain in February 2007.

- The two grounds England have played on most without losing are Solitude in Belfast (W6 D2 L0) and Anfield in Liverpool (W7 D1 L0), where England are yet to lose in eight matches. England haven’t played an international at Anfield since March 2006, when they beat Uruguay in a friendly. The last competitive international played there was in March 2001 against Finland in a World Cup qualifier, a 2-1 win.

Luke Shaw celebrates his goal in the EURO 2020 Final against Italy, which was the men's team's first appearance in a major final since 1966
Luke Shaw celebrates his goal in the EURO 2020 Final against Italy, which was the men's team's first appearance in a major final since 1966

- In total, 1271 players have made an England international appearance since the first game in November 1872 against Scotland.

- Goalkeeper Peter Shilton holds the record for the most caps, earning 125 in total between 1970 and 1990. Among outfield players, Wayne Rooney has played the most games with 120 appearances between 2003 and 2018. The first player to reach 100 caps was Billy Wright, who captained the side against Scotland in a 1-0 win in April 1959.

Jordan Henderson holds the England record for most consecutive unbeaten appearances, losing none of his 30 games between September 2014 against Norway and the 2018 World Cup quarter-final against Sweden, before ending on the losing side against Croatia in the semi-final.

- Three of the five youngest players to appear for England have done so this century. The record for youngest player was held by James Prinsep (17 years, 252 days) between 1879 and Wayne Rooney’s emergence in 2003. Rooney’s record was later broken by Theo Walcott in May 2006 (aged 17 years, 75 days), who continues to hold the record to this day.

- England’s record scorer is Wayne Rooney, who scored 53 times between 2003 and 2018. Rooney is the only player to score 50 goals for England, with Sir Bobby Charlton previously holding the record of 49 goals until Rooney broke it with a penalty against Switzerland in September 2015.

- Rooney is also the youngest player to score a goal for England, scoring aged 17 years, 317 days against Macedonia in September 2003 in a European Championships qualifier. Prior to Rooney, the record holder had been Michael Owen in 1998, with Owen the first player aged under 19 to score for England, doing so against Morocco

- Three players have scored hat-tricks in major tournaments – Sir Geoff Hurst against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final, Gary Lineker against Poland at the 1986 World Cup and Harry Kane against Panama in the 2018 World Cup. Lineker holds the record for goals at major tournaments for the Three Lions with 10 in 18 appearances, followed closely by Alan Shearer on nine.

- The oldest player to appear for the Three Lions is Stanley Matthews, who faced Denmark in 1957 aged 42 years, 103 days in his 54th and final appearance, with the record previously held by 41-year-old Alexander Morten since March 1873. Only one other player has featured aged 40 – record appearance holder Peter Shilton.

- Between 1872 and 1939, England didn’t have a specific manager, with the team selected by an Internal Selection Committee. In 1946, Walter Winterbottom was appointed as England’s first manager, a role he held for 16 years, still a record length of time for an England manager to this day.

- 19 different managers have taken charge of England, with four doing so on a temporary basis (Joe Mercer, Howard Wilkinson, Peter Taylor and Stuart Pearce).

- The manager with the best win percentage for England is Sam Allardyce, who won his one and only game in charge against Slovakia in September 2016. Among the managers with at least ten games in charge, Fabio Capello has the best win ratio, winning 28 of his 42 games in charge (67%).

- Only one permanent manager has ever lost his first game in charge of England – Alf Ramsey lost 5-2 against France in February 1963. Each of the last ten have all won their first matches in charge, a run stretching back to Graham Taylor in 1990.