England's World Cup History Before 2022 FIFA Tournament


England got a late start in the World Cup.

Sure, it’s the country where the sport of soccer was invented. And England, along with Scotland, has the oldest national team in existence, dating back to the 1800s. But England left FIFA in 1928 and didn’t rejoin until 1946, with the team making its debut in the World Cup in 1950. 

England, currently ranked No. 5 in the world in men’s soccer by FIFA, has taken part in each tournament since. But outside of its lone World Cup victory more than 50 years ago, the sport’s founding country has suffered some disappointing finishes.   

Before the team gets started in Qatar, let’s look back at England’s World Cup history:

England World Cup appearances

This will be England’s 19th straight World Cup appearance, having qualified for each tournament since its first entry in 1950. 

Has England Ever Won the World Cup?

England won the World Cup on its home turf in 1966.

The victory came over West Germany at Wembley Stadium in London, giving England its first and only World Cup win. 

Geoff Hurst scored the equalizer in the first half and Martin Peters netted the go-ahead goal with 12 minutes remaining in the game. In the final minute of regulation, West Germany’s Wolfgang Weber scored to send the game into extra time. Hurst put England in front in extra time with one of the World Cup’s most controversial goals. His shot deflected off the crossbar and was ruled to have landed fully across the goal line by Soviet linesman Tofiq Bahramov, giving England a 3-2 advantage. 

“The ball was at least one meter over the line. Full stop,” Hurst said decades later. “I hit the ball on a half turn and fell over, so I had a very poor view. And the ball actually bounced behind Tilkowski. I didn’t see it. But you want to believe more than your life worth that the ball crossed the line. And so, this belief has been strongly with me today.”

Hurst then added another goal, becoming the first and only player in World Cup history to record a hat trick in the final.

At the time, England became the third team to win the World Cup on home soil, following Uruguay (1930) and Italy (1934). Germany (1974), Argentina (1978) and France (1998) have since done so.  

England has a pair of fourth-place finishes in the World Cup, which came in 1990 and 2018. 

What is England’s all-time record in the World Cup?

In all, England is 29-19-21 in 69 World Cup matches. Including its World Cup victory and two fourth-place finishes, the team has advanced to the quarterfinals nine times.  

Which player has the most goals for England in World Cup history?

Only one player has reached double figures in World Cup goals for England: Gary Lineker.

The striker, who played in two World Cups for England, leads the country with 10. He tallied six goals during the 1986 World Cup and added four more in 1990.

That record could be broken in Qatar by Harry Kane. The 29-year-old striker already has the second-most goals for England, having scored six in the 2018 World Cup to claim the Golden Boot. In Qatar, Kane will look to become the first player in history to lead the World Cup in scoring in two different tournaments.

Hurst, who scored the hat trick during the 1966 final, is third with five goals. 

Which player has the most appearances for England in World Cup history?

No player has competed in more World Cup games for England than Peter Shilton. 

The goalkeeper played in 17 games over three World Cups with England, taking the field in 1982, 1986 and 1990. He holds the record for most official appearances in competitive soccer overall, having played in 1,398 matches over his 30-year career.

Tied for second-most appearances for England with 14 is Terry Butcher (1982, 1986, 1990), Bobby Charlton (1958, 1962, 1966, 1970), Ashley Cole (2002, 2006, 2010) and Bobby Moore (1962, 1966, 1970). Next is David Beckham, who played in 13 World Cup matches for England in 1998, 2002 and 2006.  

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