It is now decades since England could
boast an unbeaten record against one of the major football teams.
Thirty-six national sides have now beaten England in official international
play, although that number is smaller by two if predecessor and successor
nations are lumped together (united
Ireland and Northern Ireland, on the one hand, and united Germany and West
opposition, England remain unbeaten only against a few second or third level
teams, like Finland, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Albania, the even weaker
teams, sometimes called "minnows," like Luxembourg, Andorra and San Marino,
and teams they have thus far played only once or twice, like Slovenia.
Colombia is the only major
South American team never to have beaten England, and they have seldom been
among the first level teams. England have never fallen to African or Asian opponents, but perhaps that is mainly due to the paucity of
matches against teams from those continents. They went down for the
first time to an Oceanian team in 2003, when Australia won 3-1.
Scotland were the first team to win
against England, in 1874 in the third international ever played. The
other home countries were the next to beat England, Wales in 1881, Ireland in
1913 and, after Ireland was partitioned, Northern Ireland in
England first lost to a foreign team
in 1929, when Spain edged by them, 4-3, in Madrid. Seven more
Continental European teams gained their first victories against England in the
1930's, France in 1931, Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1934, Austria and
Belgium in 1936, Switzerland in 1938 and Yugoslavia in 1939.
England's post-war team of the late
1940's recorded some magnificent victories, but they lost for the first time
to two more national sides in 1949, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland, which
became the first foreign team to beat England on English soil.
Over the 1950's, seven more national
sides were added to the list of teams that had beaten England, so many that
the list no longer could fairly be described as select. Among them were
five teams from the Americas. The U.S.A. beat England 1-0 at the 1950
World Cup finals in Brazil, the biggest upset victory ever achieved against
England. Uruguay joined the list in a 1953 friendly match, Portugal in a
1955 friendly match, and the U.S.S.R. at the 1958 World Cup finals in
Sweden. In a disastrous tour of the Americas in 1959, England succumbed
to three more opponents for the first time, Brazil, Peru and Mexico.
Two more national teams
gained their first victories over England during the 1960's. Argentina
beat England in 1964 at the
Taça das Nações Tournament in Brazil. And West Germany finally won
against England in a friendly match in 1968 after eight unsuccessful efforts,
three as united Germany and five as West Germany.
the 1970's, England went down to another three teams for the first time.
Italy finally beat England in a friendly match in 1973, and in fact did it
twice that year after eight unsuccessful efforts. That
same year, Poland's victory in Chorzów
helped to prevent England from qualifying for the 1974 World Cup finals.
And in 1977, Netherlands beat England in a Wembley friendly.
Three more sides beat
England for the first time during the 1980's. Romania's first win came
in 1980 and Norway's in 1981, both in World Cup 1982 qualifying matches.
Denmark's win at Wembley in 1983 stopped England from qualifying for the 1984
European Championship finals.
finally beat England in a friendly match in 1991, soon after Germany's
reunification. The German victory was not given any special attention,
however, for West Germany already had beaten England several times. In a
friendly match at Wembley in 1998, Chile beat England for the first time.
Finally, England lost to Australia for the first time in 2003, followed by
Croatia, Russia and Ukraine. - PY