On 10 May 1886, the Football Association Committee
approved a proposal, authored by N. L. Jackson, a famous Old Corinthian,
reading: "That all players taking part for England in future
international matches be presented with a white silk cap with red rose
embroidered on the front. These to be termed 'International
This was the beginning of the tradition under which
England players are awarded caps for their international appearances. So
entrenched did the tradition become that in common parlance a player who has
made, say, 25 appearances for England is said to have 25 caps or to have been
capped 25 times.
Technically this is incorrect because the award of a cap
is no longer synonymous with an international appearance.. At first caps
were awarded for every international appearance, and today caps are still
given for each stand-alone friendly match. But only a single cap is
awarded for each tournament in which a player takes part. Thus a player
receives only one cap no matter how many qualifying or final tournament
matches he plays in a single World Cup or European Championship competition.
The first caps were of royal blue velvet, not white silk,
as Jackson envisioned. They bore a rose at the front and the match date
on the peak. Later, the initial letter of the opposition--"S"
for Scotland, for example--was added to the peak. Eventually, the full
name of the opponent was used. Other changes included the addition of a
silver tassle and replacement of the rose with the three lions
The caps are still made of blue velvet, although on
occasion green has been used. They are supplied by the Midlands firm Toye,
Kenning & Spencer.