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England football team facts to tell your friends at World Cup semi-final

By Chris Price

England fans will be singing "football's coming home" as the team takes on Croatia in the World Cup semi-final tonight.

Yet for the moments when the chanting dies down, a well-timed fact about the Three Lions will be the perfect way to impress your pals and prove your status as a true supporter.

With that in mind, here is a rundown of facts about the England national team to tell your friends before the match.

Obviously don't say anything during the game, unless you want a beer poured on your head for being a know-it-all during the drama.

The Three Lions on England's shirt come date back to Henry II. Picture: William Brawley
The Three Lions on England's shirt come date back to Henry II. Picture: William Brawley

1. Why do England wear three lions on their shirt?

The Three Lions crest was first used on England's shirts in 1872.

Its origin dates back to Henry I, who carried a single lion on his standard in 1100.

He married Adeliza, whose father bore the image of a lion on his shield and Henry took it onto this standard to commemorate his nuptuals.

The third lion was added in 1154, when Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitaine, who also had a lion on her family crest.

Argentina's Diego Maradona scores his infamous 'Hand of God' goal against England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the 1986 quarter final of the 1986 World Cup quartet final in Mexico. Picture: Wiki Commons
Argentina's Diego Maradona scores his infamous 'Hand of God' goal against England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the 1986 quarter final of the 1986 World Cup quartet final in Mexico. Picture: Wiki Commons

2. Who is England's most-capped player?

Goalkeeper Peter Shilton holds the record with 125 caps earned from 1970 to 1990, including three World Cups.

He was the goalie famously beaten by Diego Maradona's Hand of God in the 1986 tournament in Mexico.

His final international game was in the Italia 90 third-place playoff against Italy.

During a career which spanned four decades, Shilton also held the all-time record for the most competitive appearances in world football – 1,249 – until he was surpassed last year by fellow goalkeeper Paul Bastock, whose career has mainly been played in the lower leagues.

He also shares the record 10 clean sheets in World Cup finals with French keeper Fabien Barthez.

England's most-capped outfield player is Wayne Rooney, who won 119 caps. He is also the country's leading all-time goalscorer with 53.

Hamilton Crescent in Partick hosted the first international match between England and Scotland. Picture: Famous2005
Hamilton Crescent in Partick hosted the first international match between England and Scotland. Picture: Famous2005

3. When was England's first match?

England played in the very first international game ever held, taking on Scotland on November 30, 1872.

The match was played in West of Scotland Cricket Club's ground at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, in front of 4,000 specatators.

Other than its historical significance, it was not a memorable game, ending 0-0.

England's captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy as he sits on the shoulders of his teammates, from left, Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Gordon Banks (behind), Alan Ball, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson, George Cohen and Bobby Charlton. Picture: Popperfoto/Getty Images
England's captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy as he sits on the shoulders of his teammates, from left, Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Gordon Banks (behind), Alan Ball, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson, George Cohen and Bobby Charlton. Picture: Popperfoto/Getty Images

4. What is England's biggest victory?

Statistically, England's biggest victory came in a 13–0 drubbing of Ireland in Belfast on July 31, 1882.

However, the team's 6-1 victory against Panama in this World Cup was the nation's best ever result in a major tournament match.

Of course, the biggest in terms of significance came in the World Cup final in 1966, when they beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time to claim the Jules Rimet trophy.

England manager Gareth Southgate. Picture: Serg Stallone
England manager Gareth Southgate. Picture: Serg Stallone

5. How many England managers have there been?

The role of England manager wasn't created until 1946, when Sir Walter Winterbottom was appointed.

Before that, the team had been chosen by an International Selection Committee made up of coaches and trainers selected by the Football Association.

In total, there have been 15 permanent England managers and another three have held the job as caretakers.

Sam Allardyce holds technically the best record of the permanent coaches, although his 100% win ratio comes from a single game in charge, beating Slovakia 1-0 win in the first of England's 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Fabio Capello has the next best win percentage at 66.7%, although his best tournament performance was a second round exit to Germany 4-1 in the World Cup second round in 2010.

World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey has the third strongest record at 61.1%.

Gareth Southgate is eighth on 57.1%.

Sir Walter Winterbottom, England's first manager, also has the longest tenure, spanning 16 years and 139 games.

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