The England National football team is the joint oldest in the world, formed at the same time as Scotland's National Team. England played their first international match against Scotland at Scotland's invitation, at Hamilton Crescent in Scotland on 30th November 1872. Over the next forty years, England played exclusively with the other three "Home Nations" - Scotland, Wales and Ireland (later, Northern Ireland). The games were made competitive with the advent of the British Home Championship, sometimes called "Home Internations", from 1883 to 1984.
Before Wembley was opened in 1923, England had no permanent home ground. England joined FIFA in 1906, playing its first ever game outside the British Isles in 1908. However, the relationship between the two was strained mainly due to the status and definition of amateurs, resulting in the British nations' departure from FIFA in 1928, before rejoining in 1946.
As a result, England did not compete in a FIFA World Cup until 1950, in which they were beaten in a 1-0 defeat against the United States, failing to get past the first round. England's first ever defeat on home soil to a non-UK team was a 0-2 loss to Ireland on September 21, 1949 at Goodison Park, Liverpool. A 6-3 loss in 1953 to Hungary was England's first ever defeat to a non-UK team at Wembley. England are one of the more successful footballing teams, being one of only seven countries to ever win the FIFA World Cup, which they did in 1966 when they hosted the finals. They defeated West Germany 4-2 in extra time in the Final. Since then, however, they have only reached the semi-finals once, losing to West Germany on penalties. Nevertheless, they remain a prominent team on the global stage, usually just inside or close to the top ten rankings of both FIFA and ELO.
Although Walter Winterbottom was appointed as the first ever full time manager in 1946, the team was still picked by an FA committee until Alf Ramsey took over in 1963. Under Ramsey, England experienced its greatest ever success, winning the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final against West Germany 4-2 after extra time.
Geoff Hurst famously scored a hat-trick in the final. The 1966 World Cup was also held in England. England qualified for the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico as reigning cup holders. They reached the Quarter-finals but were knocked out by West Germany. England failed to qualify for both the 1974 and 1978 World Cups. In 1982, England under Ron Greenwood qualified for FIFA World Cup in Spain after a 12-year absence and were eliminated from the second round without losing a match. The team under Bobby Robson fared better as England reached the quarter finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup and finished fourth in the tournament four years later, which was the best performance in the World Cup since 1966.
Graham Taylor's short reign as Robson's successor ended after his England failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, but then the 1996 European Championships were held in England, and under new coach Terry Venables the team had its best ever performance at a European Championship, reaching the semi-final.
The England team of the 1990s and 2000s hasn't progressed beyond the quarter finals of any international tournament apart from Italia 90 and Euro 96. Sven-Göran Eriksson took charge of the team between 2001 and 2006 and was the first non-English manager of England. Steve McClaren was appointed as the head coach following the 2006 World Cup.
The reign was marked with little success, with England failing to qualify for the 2008 European Championships. McClaren left on 22 November 2007, after only 16 months in charge and making him the shortest tenured full time England manager ever since the inauguration of the post in 1946.
He was replaced by the former Real Madrid and AC Milan manager Fabio Capello. The Italian was the second foreign manager to coach England, after Eriksson, and took charge of his first game on 6 February 2008 against Switzerland. England won 2-1.
England played Brazil in a friendly in Qatar in November as part of their World Cup Finals preparations. The match in Qatar was the 23rd meeting between England and Brazil since 1956 and resulted in a 1-0 win for Brazil. A friendly against Egypt in March 2010 was won 3-1. England's provisional squad of 30 players for the 2010 World Cup Finals was announced on 11th May 2010 and from this the final 23 players for South Africa will be selected.
The first match for Capello's World Cup squad, who have been training in Austria, was against Mexico at Wembley Stadium on 24th May 2010 and resulted in a rather flattering 3-1 win with Ledley King, Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson providing the goals. A further friendly against Japan was played in Graz, Austria on 30th May with England again fortunate to win 2-1.
England got off to a slow start in the 2010 World Cup Finals with draws against the USA & Algeria but beat Slovenia to progress to the knock-out stages, where they met Germany.
The Second Round match saw England completely outclassed and humiliated by a young German side who ran-out worthy 4-1 winners. Fabio Capello was retained for the 2012 European Championship qualifiers and England's first match was against Bulgaria at Wembley on Friday 3rd September 2010. England qualified for the Finals on 7th October 2011 as unbeaten group champions. England have been drawn to play Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova & San Marino in Group H for the Qualification Competition for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Finals to be held in Brazil.
Capello resigned as England's manager in February 2012 and Stuart Pearce was appointed caretaker manager for the friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley, which the Dutch won 3-2.
Roy Hodgson was appointed in May 2012 for the Euro 2012 Finals, where England reached the Quarter Finals unbeaten before going-out to Italy on penalties. England's unbeaten run under Hodgson continued into the World Cup qualification for Brazil 2014.