FA Historian David Barber looks back on some of England's greatest performances
England’s bid to qualify for World Cup 2014 starts on Friday with Roy Hodgson’s men kicking off their campaign against Moldova.
The Three Lions are favourites to win qualifying Group H, which also boasts the likes of Montenegro and Ukraine.
Here, FA Historian David Barber casts his mind back on England’s finest moments from their previous World Cup qualifiers.
Germany 1-5 England, Munich 2001
The Germans were humbled in Munich on a ‘Svensational’ night for England. Carsten Jancker prodded past David Seaman but we bounced back with a classic Michael Owen (above) hat-trick and two more golden strikes from Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey. Pure joy as England simply blew Germany away.
Croatia 1-4 England, Zagreb 2008
A ‘hostile’ atmosphere actually inspired England as we became the first country to win a competitive fixture in Croatia. Fabio Capello put his faith in Arsenal winger Theo Walcott and he delivered a sparkling hat-trick, the youngest ever to achieve it at 19 years 178 days. Wayne Rooney scored too.
Hungary 1-3 England, Budapest 1981
Ron Greenwood’s side went into the contest given little chance after a dismal run of six matches without a win. But Trevor Brooking scored twice, the ball dramatically wedged in the stanchion after the second, and a Keegan penalty revived our chances of qualifying for Spain.
England 2-2 Greece, Old Trafford 2001
We finally confirmed our place in the World Cup Finals with a last-gasp draw at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. The unfancied Greeks, playing with skill and confidence, led until the third minute of injury time. Then David Beckham, the hero of the hour, saved the day with a fabulous free kick.
England 2-0 Italy, Wembley 1977
Greenwood picked two wingers, Steve Coppell and Peter Barnes, and it was a tactical decision that paid off handsomely. From the start there was a passion about England’s play and Kevin Keegan’s glancing header from Brooking’s cross gave us an early lead. Brooking later added a second.
Italy 0-0 England, Rome 1997
We were on our way to the World Cup for the first time in eight years after a battling draw in the Olympic Stadium. Glenn Hoddle’s spiky, resolute England side, with David Batty a snapping bulldog in midfield, gave Italy few opportunities to break them down. Ian Wright hit a post near the end (above - David Beckham, Paul Ince and Paul Gascoigne celebrate).
Sweden 0-0 England, Stockholm 1989
England edged closer to the Italian Finals with a hard-earned point. It was an uncompromising match with tackles going in thick and fast. The Swedes looked dangerous going forward but old campaigners Peter Shilton and Terry Butcher stood firm, the latter with a bloodied head.
Turkey 0-8 England, Istanbul 1984
The Three Lions produced some high-class finishing to overwhelm the Turks in the first match between the countries. We were on the attack immediately and had a 3-0 lead by the break. Bryan Robson grabbed a hat-trick, Tony Woodcock and John Barnes bagged a brace each and Viv Anderson also scored.
Poland 0-0 England, Katowice 1989
We got the point we needed to qualify and Shilton was outstanding again. Des Walker and Butcher were given a torrid time by the fast and mobile Polish forwards, ‘Shilts’ saving superbly from Dariusz Dziekanowski before a 30-yarder from Ryszard Tarasiewicz thudded against the bar.
England 2-1 Finland, Anfield 2001
We wore Liverpool red in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s first competitive match and had young Anfield superstars Michael Owen and Gerrard in the starting line-up. The Finns took a shock lead but Owen’s left-footer flew in for the leveller and Beckham, racing in from the right, blasted an unstoppable winner.
FA Historian David Barber is ‘The Football Man’. He joined the FA staff more than 40 years ago and initially worked in the same office as Sir Alf Ramsey, England’s World Cup-winning manager. He has compiled more than 150 books, acted as liaison officer to 48 visiting national teams, and personally attended more than 6,000 matches. He will watch – and knows about – football at all levels from England and the Premier League to matches so modest that he is sometimes the only spectator.