This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.

United Kingdom national football team

United Kingdom
Shirt badge/Association crest
Head coachNone appointed
CaptainNone appointed
Most capsBilly Liddell
Stanley Matthews (2)
Top scorerWilf Mannion
Tommy Lawton (2)
Home stadiumVarious
FIFA ranking
First international
United Kingdom Great Britain 6–1 Rest of Europe
(Glasgow; 10 May 1947)
Biggest win
United Kingdom Great Britain 6–1 Rest of Europe
(Glasgow; 10 May 1947)
Biggest defeat
United Kingdom Great Britain 1–4 Rest of Europe
(Belfast; 13 August 1955)

No United Kingdom national football team exists, as there are separate teams representing each of the nations of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) in international football.

These national teams compete in the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships and other internationals. A United Kingdom team has played in friendly matches, though never in a full FIFA international and not since 1955. However, the United Kingdom has competed in the association football tournament at the Summer Olympic Games, where it is represented by the Great Britain Olympic football team. A United Kingdom football team participates regularly at the Summer Universiade football tournament.


The four football federations of the United Kingdom:
  Northern Ireland

When the world's first football association, The Football Association (FA), was formed in 1863, its geographical remit was not clear: there was no specification of whether it covered just England, all of the United Kingdom, the British Empire or even the entire world. The question was answered when the Scottish Football Association (SFA) was founded in 1873.

The third national football association, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) was founded in 1876 and a fourth, the Irish Football Association (IFA), was founded in 1880. Football therefore developed with separate associations and national teams for each of the countries of the United Kingdom or "Home Nations".

Representative international matches between England and Scotland were played as far back as 1872, and the Home Nations formed the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in 1886 to co-ordinate matches between their teams. FIFA was formed by non-British associations in 1904, and by 1913 the Home Nations were in FIFA and FIFA was on the IFAB. In 1921, around the time of the partition of Ireland, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) split from the IFA and disputed its authority.

In 1923, an agreement between the IFAB and FIFA meant the FAI would represent the Irish Free State and the IFA Northern Ireland; also, FIFA agreed that relationships between the Home Nations would be outside its remit.[1] England and Scotland separately played internationals against various European teams, but the Home Nations withdrew from FIFA in 1928, in a dispute over amateurism, and did not rejoin till 1946, missing the first three World Cups.

England have been the only Home Nation to have any major success internationally, winning the 1966 World Cup. Scotland have qualified for the final tournaments of eight World Cups and two European Championships, but have never progressed beyond the group stage of any international tournament. Northern Ireland have not qualified for a World Cup finals tournament since 1986, and Wales since 1958.

This is sometimes raised as an argument in favour of a single United Kingdom national team: based on statistical analysis. In June 2006, it was estimated that a United Kingdom national team would have had a one-third greater chance of winning the 2006 World Cup, than England did at the tournament's outset.[2] Opponents of the plan argue that the existing footballing identities of the fans of the Home Nations should not be sacrificed simply to stand a better chance of success.

There has been limited support for the creation of a permanent British national team. Although often hypothetical in nature, such a proposal has been put forward by prominent government ministers, including Jack Straw[3] and Tony Banks.[4] In July 2014, after England performed poorly in the 2014 World Cup, Conservative MP Laurence Robertson submitted an early day motion, calling for a United Kingdom Football Team.[5][6]


Great Britain (1947)
Great Britain (1955)
The kits worn in the two past matches:
• Scotland's blue in 1947.
• Northern Ireland's green in 1955.

Despite this, the Home Nations have previously united to play two friendly internationals against 'Rest of Europe' representative sides. On both occasions, they included all four Home Nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (despite Northern Ireland's participation, both matches were played under the name of 'Great Britain').

1947: the Match of the Century

The 1947 game, dubbed the 'Match of the Century', was played to celebrate the return of the Home Nations to FIFA, which they had left in 1920.[7] For the match, played at Scotland's Hampden Park in front of 135,000 spectators, the Great Britain side wore a navy blue strip in honour of the host association. The gate receipts, totalling £35,000, helped boost the finances of FIFA, which had been damaged by the lack of competition during World War II.[7] On that occasion, the Great Britain team consisted of:

Frank Swift (England), George Hardwick (England), Billy Hughes (Wales), Archie Macaulay (Scotland), Jackie Vernon (Ireland), Ron Burgess (Wales), Stanley Matthews (England), Wilf Mannion (England), Tommy Lawton (England), Billy Steel (Scotland), Billy Liddell (Scotland).[11]
Goals: UK 1–0 ROE, Mannion 22nd minute; 1–1 Nordahl 24; 2–1 Mannion 33 pen.; 3–1 Steel 35; 4–1 Lawton 37; 5–1 Parola 74 o.g.; 6–1 Lawton 82.[12][8]

1955: Irish FA's anniversary

The 1955 game was played to celebrate the Irish Football Association's seventy-fifth anniversary. For this reason, the match was held at Belfast's Windsor Park, and the British team took to the field wearing Northern Ireland's green strip. The Great Britain team fielded comprised:

Jack Kelsey (Wales), Peter Sillett (England), Joe McDonald (Scotland), Danny Blanchflower (Northern Ireland), John Charles (Wales), Bertie Peacock (Northern Ireland), Stanley Matthews (England), Bobby Johnstone (Scotland), Roy Bentley (England), Jimmy McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Billy Liddell (Scotland).[9]

Other matches

Two other games were played between Wales and a team representing the rest of the United Kingdom, with players from England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The first match, in 1951, commemorated the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Football Association of Wales. The second match, in 1969, commemorated the investiture of the Prince of Wales. In both cases, the England, Scotland and Northern Ireland select team played under the name of 'Rest of the United Kingdom'.

There was also a match played at Wembley in 1973 to commemorate the entry of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark into the European Economic Community.[14] This match, called "The Three" v "The Six", involved a select team from those three countries playing against a selection of players from the original six members of the EEC: West Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and Italy.[14]

Ten of the thirteen players used by "The Three" were from the United Kingdom, with only Johnny Giles and two Danish players representing the other two countries.[14] Henning Jensen and Colin Stein scored as The Three won 2–0.[14]

A Great British team lined up against another Rest of Europe XI in 1965 for Stanley Matthews' testimonial. Europe won 6–4.[15] A Scotland XI team played a Rest of Great Britain team in a testimonial match for Alan Mullery; Scotland were defeated 3–2 at Craven Cottage on 22 March 1976.[16][17]

Olympic team

From the 1900 Summer Olympics to the 1972 Summer Olympics, and again for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the UK has competed in either the Olympic football tournament or its qualifying competition.[18] During the first tournament, played as a demonstration sport at the 1900 Summer Olympics but retrospectively accredited by the IOC, Upton Park F.C. represented the UK and won gold. Following this Great Britain won gold medals at the 1908 and 1912 Games.[19][20]

All 'Great Britain' Olympic football teams were organised by The Football Association (FA) with the acquiescence of the other Home Nations' football associations, and after the FA scrapped the distinction between professional and amateur players in 1974, no more British Olympic teams were entered.

Although professional players were allowed into the Olympics from 1992, no British teams were entered because the individual home nations, rather than a unified team, participated in the qualifying competition.

The 2012 Summer Olympics were hosted by London, which meant that Great Britain qualified as right of being host nation. After much discussion between the Home Nations and opposition from the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh associations, men's and women's teams organised by the (English) FA were entered to the 2012 Olympics.[21][22]

Universiade team

At the Universiade, the United Kingdom team has won three medals: two silver medals in 2011 and 2013 and a bronze medal in 1991.


  1. ^ Brodie, Malcolm; Billy Kennedy (2005). The IFA 125 years...the history. Edenderry print limited. p. 108. "Politics of Irish Soccer". The Irish Times. 25 November 1953. p. 3.
  2. ^ "The Auld Opponent". The Times. 15 June 2006. Retrieved on 5 July 2006.
  3. ^ Travis, Alan (29 November 2000). "Red card for Straw's 'British team' idea". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2006.
  4. ^ McLaughlin, Martyn (26 August 2008). "GB united or an own goal that will split UK?". The Scotsman. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  5. ^ Wheeler, Richard (10 July 2014). "UK football team should be formed, says leading Tory". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Tory MP calls for UK football team after England's World Cup failure". The Herald. Glasgow. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b c "The four British associations return to FIFA after the Second World War: 25th FIFA Congress in Luxembourg in 1946". FIFA. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  8. ^ a b Great Britain's Easy Win Over The Rest Of Europe, video footage from official Pathé News archive
  9. ^ a b c England Player Honours – International Representative Teams. England Football Online, 14 February 2005. Retrieved on 5 July 2006.
  10. ^ Matches of Supranational Representative Teams 1937–1970, RSSSF
  11. ^ Norman, Giller (2004). Football And All That. London: Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 115–116. ISBN 0-340-83589-3.
  12. ^ "Great Britain V Rest of Europe Hampden Park 1947". England Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  13. ^ "When Wales faced George Best, Billy Bremner and Jack Charlton for Rest of the UK". BBC Sport. 28 July 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d "NOW YOU KNOW: Silky Celtic gave Leeds a Hampden masterclass." Evening Times. 12 February 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  15. ^ "".
  16. ^ Alan Mullery Testimonial Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 25-10-2013.
  17. ^ Scotland A, B XI U23, Selects Retrieved 25-10-2013.
  18. ^ The team representing the United Kingdom is typically known as Great Britain or, in recent years, Team GB, when competing at the Olympics. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 February 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Happy to discuss Olympic team". The Football Association. 10 July 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  20. ^ Games of the IV Olympiad Archived 23 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine. Aarhus, Lars; RSSSF, 15 October 1999. Retrieved on 5 July 2006.
  21. ^ "Nations pave way for 2012 GB team". BBC Sport. BBC. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  22. ^ "London 2012: Stuart Pearce and Hope Powell to lead GB teams". BBC Sport. BBC. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
Retrieved from "[]"