How much do you know about England’s World Cup history?
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From They Think It’s All Overs to Hands of God, eighteen-year-old solos and eight-second openers by San Marino, let it never be said that England’s participation in the World Cup has been boring.
When Gareth Southgate’s men step out in Russia in the hope of putting ever-growing years of hurt behind them and winning the famous gold trophy for the first time since 1966 they may do so as underdogs, but history implies they should not be ruled out of a shout.
Geoff Hurst’s remarkable hat-trick helped England write the most famous chapter in the history of the domestic game with a 4-2 final win over West Germany.
Jubilant, having finally restored themselves to the top of the global game, an experienced England squad went to Mexico in 1970 full of confidence that they could retain their crown.
Despite the absence of Gordon Banks due to food poisoning, England strolled to a 2-0 lead over West Germany in the quarter-finals, but this time the Germans strolled back, levelling at 2-2 before Gerd Muller grabbed an injury-time winner after a mistake by goalkeeping stand-in Peter Bonetti.
Twelve dark World Cup years would follow as England failed to qualify for either the 1974 or 1978 campaigns.
Bryan Robson’s 27-second opener against France in the 1982 finals in Spain flattered to deceive - England were poor and fell at the second-round group stage.
After a dismal start in 1986, Gary Lineker perked England up with a hat-trick against Poland and two more against Paraguay to sweep them to the quarter-finals.
Then came the best and worst of Diego Maradona - the blatant handball to knock the ball past Peter Shilton followed a moment of football majesty. Which ever way you cared to look at it, England were out.
There were more tears in 1990 - mostly belonging to Paul Gascoigne in the course of a heart-breaking semi-final defeat to West Germany after Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed in the penalty shoot-out.
From that almost near-miss came the ridiculous, David Galtieri notching the fastest goal in World Cup history as England ended their unsuccessful qualifying campaign with an embarrassing start against minnows San Marino. Their ultimate 7-1 win was not enough to get them to USA ‘94.
Gascoigne was controversially dropped from Glenn Hoddle’s 1998 squad, but his absence was the last thing on England fans’ minds by the time they stepped out for their last 16 clash with old rivals Argentina.
In an unforgettable showdown, 18-year-old Michael Owen weaved his magic with a stunning individual strike to put England 2-1 up, but England were hampered by the 46th minute sending-off of David Beckham, who was vilified back home in the wake of England’s eventual defeat on penalties.
More agony ensued in 2002, despite the heights of a 5-1 qualifying win in Germany. A quarter-final lead against Brazil raised hopes of a major breakthrough, but Ronaldinho’s lob over a frantically stranded David Seaman served up more indelible World Cup misery for the nation.
More penalty heartache followed in 2006 - this time in the quarter-final against Portugal - while a dismal 2010 campaign ended in England’s worst World Cup defeat, their 4-1 loss against Germany so emphatic even Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal was rendered an after-thought.
In 2014 Greg Dyke, the Football Association chairman at the time, famously made a throat-slitting gesture at the time this draw came out, and it ultimately proved lethal for England who were out after defeats to fellow former world champions Italy and Uruguay. Playing Italy in the extreme humidity of the Amazon jungle in Manaus didn’t help Roy Hodgson’s men.
However, as England’s World Cup history has proved time and time again, it is often the most darkest of episodes which evolve into moments of hope.
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