UEFA runs official international competitions in Europe and some countries of Northern, Southwestern and Central Asia for national teams and professional clubs, known as UEFA competitions, some of which are regarded as the world’s most prestigious tournaments.
UEFA is the organiser of two of the most prestigious competitions in international football: The UEFA European Championship and the UEFA Nations League.
The main competition for men’s national teams is the UEFA European Championship (also known as the Euros), started in 1958, with the first finals in 1960, and known as the European Nations Cup until 1964.
The UEFA Nations League is the second tournament of UEFA and was introduced in 2018. The tournament largely replaced the international friendly matches previously played on the FIFA International Match Calendar. It will be played every two years.
The Albania national football team is governed by the Albanian Football Association (FSHF), the governing body for football in Albania.
The nation competes in the three major international tournaments – the FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championship and UEFA Nations League.
Albania was the winner of the 1946 Balkan Cup and the 2000 Malta Rothmans International Tournament. At Euro 2016, Albania made its second appearance at a major men’s football tournament after 50 years.
After its completion in 2019, Arena Kombëtare, became the home ground of the national team. Albania’s highest FIFA World Ranking was 22nd in August 2015.
In 2020, Albania finished on top of their group for the first time ever in Group 4 of UEFA Nations League C that saw them being promoted to the UEFA Nations League B.
The teams nicknames are Kuq e Zinjtë (The Red and Blacks) and Shqiponjat (The Eagles).
Lorik Cana is the nation’s most capped player and Erjon Bogdani is the all-time leading goal scorer.
The Andorra national football team is controlled by the Andorran Football Federation, the governing body for football in Andorra.
The team has enjoyed very little success due to the Principality’s tiny population, which is the fifth smallest of any UEFA country (only Liechtenstein, San Marino, Gibraltar and the Faroe Islands are smaller).
Since the qualifying rounds for the UEFA Euro 2000 tournament, Andorra have competed in qualifying for every European Championship and World Cup but have failed to qualify for any major tournament.
They are yet to win 10 matches as a footballing nation. Ildefons Lima is the nation’s greatest ever footballer with the most caps and goals.
The Armenia national football team is controlled by the Football Federation of Armenia, the governing body for football in Armenia.
After gaining independence from the Soviet Union, the team played its first international match on 12 October 1992.
The national team has participated in the qualification of every major tournament from the UEFA Euro 1996 onwards, though they are yet to qualify for the final stages of either a UEFA European Football Championship or a FIFA World Cup.
The team’s biggest achievements were coming in third place in the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying stage, and being promoted to the 2022–23 UEFA Nations League B.
Former Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United and Arsenal player Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the nation’s all-time leading goal scorer.
The Austria national football team is controlled by the Austrian Football Association.
Austria has qualified for seven FIFA World Cups, but the last time was way back in 1998.
The country played in the UEFA European Championship for the first time in 2008, when it co-hosted the event with Switzerland, and most recently qualified in 2016.
Andi Herzog is the nation’s most-capped player and Toni Polster is the all-time leading goal scorer.
The Azerbaijan national football team is controlled by Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan. It represents Azerbaijan in international football competitions.
The majority of Azerbaijan’s home matches are held at the national stadium, Baku Olympic Stadium.
The Azerbaijan national football team has taken part in qualification for each major tournament since Euro 1996, but has never qualified for the finals tournament of any World Cup or European Championship.
Despite this, Azerbaijan is the first Caucasus country to host a major tournament – the UEFA Euro 2020, even though they failed to qualify for the final tournament.
Gurban Gurbanov is the country’s all-time leading scorer.
The Belarus national football team is controlled by the Football Federation of Belarus, the governing body for football in Belarus.
Belarus’ home ground is Dinamo Stadium in Minsk. Since independence in 1991, Belarus has failed to qualify for a FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship.
Alyaksandr Kulchy is the nation’s most-capped player and Maksim Romaschenko is the all-time leading goal scorer.
Belarus’ football team is nicknamed the The White Wings.
The Belgian national football team is under the global jurisdiction of FIFA and is governed in Europe by UEFA— both of which were co-founded by the Belgian team’s supervising body, the Royal Belgian Football Association.
Most of Belgium’s home matches are played at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.
Belgium’s national team have participated in three quadrennial major football competitions. The country has appeared in the end stages of thirteen FIFA World Cups and five UEFA European Championships, and featured at three Olympic football tournaments, including the 1920 Olympic tournament which they won.
Belgium has long-standing football rivalries with the Netherlands and France. The squad has been known as the Red Devils since 1906.
During the national player career of forward Paul Van Himst, the most-praised Belgian footballer of the 20th century, Belgium finished third at UEFA Euro 1972.
After that, they experienced two golden ages with many gifted players. In the first period, which lasted from the 1980s to the early 1990s, the team finished as runners-up at UEFA Euro 1980 and fourth in the 1986 World Cup.
In the second, under guidance of Marc Wilmots and later Roberto Martínez in the 2010s, Belgium topped the FIFA World Rankings for the first time in November 2015 and finished third at the 2018 World Cup.
They are currently ranked #1 by FIFA and are one of the best teams in world football.
Belgium’s most-capped player is defender Jan Vertonghen and top goal scorer is Romelu Lukaku.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Bosnia and Herzegovina national football team is governed by the Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Until 1992, Bosnian footballers played for Yugoslavia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina achieved their best result when they reached the 2014 FIFA World Cup as winners of their qualifying group. They were eliminated after group stage losses to Argentina and Nigeria but they did manage to beat Iran in their group.
The national team has appeared in numerous other qualification play-offs, including the 2010 FIFA World Cup play-offs loss to Portugal, as well as the qualifying play-offs for UEFA Euro 2012, 2016 and 2020, losing to Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively, preventing the team from reaching its first UEFA European Championship.
The team’s highest FIFA World Ranking was 13th, achieved in August 2013.
Edin Dzeko is Bosnia’s greatest ever footballer. He has the most caps and goals for his country and has played for some of the biggest clubs in world football.
The Bulgaria national football team is administered by the Bulgarian Football Union, a member association of UEFA. The team’s home venue is the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia.
Bulgaria’s best achievements are reaching the final at the 1968 Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 1994.
They have also competed at the Balkan Cup, winning three titles but the nation has failed to qualify for any major tournament since UEFA Euro 2004.
Stiliyan Petrov is the country’s most-capped player and former Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov is the nation’s all-time leading goal scorer along with Hristo Bonev.
The Croatia national football team is controlled by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS).
Most home matches are played at the Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb. Croatia is one of the youngest national teams (since formation) to reach the knockout stages of a major tournament, as well as the youngest team to occupy the top 10 in the FIFA World Rankings.
The team was recognised by both FIFA and UEFA following the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Before the current team was formed, most Croatian players represented Yugoslavia.
The modern-day team has played competitive matches since 1994, starting with the qualifying campaign for the 1996 European Championship. In 1998, they competed in their first FIFA World Cup, finishing an impressive third and ended up with the tournament’s top scorer – Davor Šuker. Exactly twenty years later, Croatia reached the 2018 World Cup Final, which they lost to France.
Among other nicknames, the team is colloquially referred to as the Vatreni (Blazers) or the Kockasti (The Chequered Ones). In the Italian-speaking counties the team is known as Il furioso incendio (The Blazing Fire).
Since becoming eligible to compete, Croatia has only failed to qualify for two major tournaments – the 2000 European Championship and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The team has certain rivalries such as the Derby Adriatico with Italy and a rivalry with Serbia, both of which have led to disruptive matches.
The team represents the second-smallest country by population and landmass to reach the World Cup final, behind Uruguay and Netherlands, respectively.
At major tournaments, Croatia holds unique joint records for the longest period between one goal and another of a player (2002–2014), most penalty shootouts played (2), most extra time periods played (3) and most penalties saved in a match (3).
They are also one of only two teams—along with Colombia—to be named FIFA’s “Best Mover of the Year” more than once, winning the award in 1994 and 1998.
Upon admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world. Following the 1998 World Cup campaign, the side rose to third place in the rankings, making it the most volatile team in FIFA Rankings history.
Croatia has become one of the major powerhouses not only in European football but world football.
Real Madrid legend Luka Modric is the country’s most-capped player while Davor Suker is the country’s leading goal scorer.
The Cyprus national football team is controlled by the Cyprus Football Association, the governing body for football in Cyprus.
Cyprus’ home ground is the GSP Stadium in Nicosia.
Ioannis Okkas is the most capped player in Cyprus’ history with over a 100 appearances while Michalis Konstantinou is the all-time leading goal scorer.
The Czech Republic national football team is controlled by the Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR). Historically, the team participated in FIFA and UEFA competitions as Bohemia and Czechoslovakia.
Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the first international competition of the Czech Republic was Euro 1996, where they finished runners-up, and have taken part in every European Championship since.
Following the separation, they have featured in only one FIFA World Cup – In 2006 when it was held in Germany.
Czech Republic have achieved a highest ever FIFA ranking of #2 in 4 different spells – September 1999, January-May 2000, April-May 2005 and January-May 2006.
Chelsea legend goalkeeper Petr Cech is the nation’s most-capped player and Jan Koller has the most goals for the Czechs.
The Denmark national football team is controlled by the Danish Football Association (DBU), the governing body for the football clubs which are organized under DBU.
Denmark’s home stadium is Parken Stadium in the Østerbro district of Copenhagen.
Denmark were the winners of Football at the 1906 Intercalated Games and silver medalists at the 1908 and 1912 Olympics. However, as amateurs who prohibited their internationals from becoming professionals at foreign clubs, Denmark did not qualify for the FIFA World Cup until 1986, although they won another Olympic silver in 1960.
Since 1983, the team has continuously been visible as a solidly competitive side, with the triumph in the 1992 European Championship in Sweden as its most prominent victory, defeating defending champions the Netherlands in the semi-final and overwhelming favourites Germany in the final.
They also won the 1995 King Fahd Cup, defeating Argentina in the final. Their best World Cup result was achieved in 1998, where they narrowly lost 3–2 in a quarter-final against Brazil. Denmark also made the second round in 1986, 2002 and 2018.
The Red and White have achieved an all-time high ranking of #3 back in May 1997 and August 1997.
Manchester United treble winner Peter Schmeichel is the country’s most-capped player while Jon Dahl Tomasson and Paul Nielsen are the nation’s all-time leading goal scorers.
The England men’s national football team represents England in men’s international football since the first international match in 1872.
It is controlled by The Football Association (FA), the governing body for football in England, which is affiliated with UEFA and comes under the global jurisdiction of world football’s governing body FIFA.
Also known as The Three Lions, England competes in the three major international tournaments contested by European nations – the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA European Championship and the UEFA Nations League. England is one of only eight nations to have been crowned world champions, having won the 1966 edition of the World Cup at home in England.
England is the joint oldest national team in football. They played in the world’s first international football match in 1872, against Scotland. England’s home ground is Wembley Stadium, London, and their training headquarters is at St George’s Park, Burton upon Trent.
Since first entering the tournament in 1950, England has qualified for the FIFA World Cup 15 times. They won the 1966 World Cup, when they also hosted the finals, and finished fourth in both 1990 and 2018. Since first entering in 1964, England has never won the UEFA European Championship, with their best performances being third-place finishes in 1968 and 1996, the latter as hosts.
England, as a constituent country of the United Kingdom, is not a member of the International Olympic Committee and therefore the national team does not compete under the England banner at the Olympic Games.
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The Estonia national football team is controlled by the Estonian Football Association, the governing body for football in Estonia. Estonia’s home ground is A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn.
Estonia’s first match was held against Finland in 1920, being a 6–0 defeat. The team participated in the 1924 Olympic Games tournament, their only participation.
In 1940, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and did not regain independence (and the possibility of a national football team) until 1991.
Estonia’s first FIFA recognised match as an independent nation after the break-up of the Soviet Union, was against Slovenia on 3 June 1992, a 1–1 draw in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn.
Estonia has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship. The team did however, reach the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying play-offs, by finishing second in their qualifying group, before being drawn up against Ireland for a play-off tie, making 2011 the Annus mirabilis of Estonian football.
Estonia has also participated in the local sub-regional Baltic Cup championship, which takes place every two years between the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They have won the Baltic Cup tournament three times—but the last victory was back in 1938—which is the least of all three Baltic states.
The record for the most international caps for the Estonians is held by Martin Reim. The record for most goals is held by Andres Oper with 38.
The Faroe Islands national football team is controlled by the Faroe Islands Football Association. The Faroe Islands became a member of FIFA in 1988 and UEFA in 1990 and is the fourth smallest UEFA country by population.
Faroe Islands have never advanced to the finals of the FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship.
They took part in the Island Games in 1989 and 1991 and won both tournaments. They also took part in the Nordic Football Championship for the first time in 2000–01, the last time the competition was played.
In the Faroe Islands the team is known as the Landsliðið. Home matches are played at Tórsvøllur.
Fróði Benjaminsen is the nation’s most-capped player and Rógvi Jacobsen is the all-time leading scorer for the national team.
The Finland national football team is controlled by the Football Association of Finland. The team has been a member of FIFA since 1904 and a UEFA member since 1957.
Finland had not qualified a major tournament until securing a spot at UEFA Euro 2020 (postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and are the only Nordic team alongside minnows Faroe Islands to have never reached the FIFA World Cup finals.
After many decades of relative obscurity, the nation made progression in the 2000s, achieving notable results against established European teams and reaching a peak of 33rd in the FIFA World Rankings in 2007.
They play their home games at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium and are nicknamed the Eagle-owls.
Jari Litmanen is the greatest ever player from Finland. He has the most appearances and goals for his country.
The France national football team is controlled by the French Football Federation, also known as FFF.
The team’s colours are blue, white and red, and the coq gaulois its symbol. France are nicknamed Les Bleus (The Blues). They won the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, 20 years after winning their first title at home in France.
France plays their home matches at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Île-de-France.
They have won two FIFA World Cups, two UEFA European Championships, two FIFA Confederations Cups and one Olympic tournament.
France experienced much of its success in four major eras – in the 1950s, 1980s, late 1990s/early 2000s, and mid/late 2010s, respectively, which resulted in numerous major honours.
France was one of the four European teams that participated in the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and, although having been eliminated in the qualification stage six times, is one of only two teams that have played in every World Cup. Brazil is the only other nation to have done so.
In 1958, the team, led by Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine, finished in third place at the FIFA World Cup.
In 1984, France, led by Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini, won UEFA Euro 1984.
However, France only began to reach its prime from the 1990s, with the establishment of INF Clairefontaine. Under the captaincy of Didier Deschamps and three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane, France won the FIFA World Cup in 1998.
Two years later, the team triumphed at UEFA Euro 2000. France won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003, and reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, which they lost 5–3 on penalties to Italy.
The team also reached the final of UEFA Euro 2016, where they lost 1–0 to Portugal in extra time but won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, defeating Croatia 4–2 in the final match on 15th July 2018. This was the second time they had won the tournament after winning it on home soil in 1998.
France was the first national team to win the three most important men’s titles recognized by FIFA – the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, and the Olympic tournament after victory in the Confederations Cup in 2001.
The now-defunct Confederations Cup started in 1992. Prior to this, Uruguay and Italy had won both the Olympic tournament and the World Cup in the 1920s and 1930s.
England and Germany had also won both tournaments, however, England competes as Great Britain in the Olympics and it was East Germany that won the Olympic tournament in 1976.
Since 2001, Argentina (after the 2004 Olympics) and Brazil (after the 2016 Olympics) are the other two national teams that have won these three titles.
They, along with Germany, Italy and Uruguay, have also won their respective continental championship (Copa América for Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and UEFA European Championship for France, Germany and Italy).
Lilian Thuram is the country’s most-capped player and legend Thierry Henry is the nation’s all-time leading goal scorer.
France is arguably the best team in world football. To learn more about France and French football, visit – https://www.footballbetting.org/france/
The Georgia national football team is controlled by the Georgian Football Federation.
The Georgian team’s first match took place in 1990, while Georgia was still part of the Soviet Union.
The team have attempted to qualify for each major tournament since Euro 1996, but have failed to achieve qualification so far. Georgia plays its home games at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi.
The Crusaders’ most-capped player is Levan Kobiashvili and the all-time leading goal scorer is Shota Arveladze.
The Germany national football team represents Germany in men’s international football and played its first match in 1908.
The team is governed by the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund), founded in 1900. Between 1949 and 1990, separate German national teams were recognised by FIFA due to Allied occupation and division – the DFB’s team representing the Federal Republic of Germany (named West Germany from 1949 to 1990), the Saarland team representing the Saar Protectorate (1950–1956) and the East German team representing the German Democratic Republic (1952–1990).
The latter two were absorbed by Germany along with their records when the country was reunited. The present team represents the reunified Federal Republic of Germany. The official name and code “Germany FR (FRG)” was shortened to “Germany (GER)” following reunification in 1990.
Germany is one of the most successful footballing nations in international competitions, having won four World Cups (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014), three European Championships (1972, 1980, 1996), and one Confederations Cup (2017).
They have also been runners-up three times in the European Championships, four times in the World Cup, and a further four third-place finishes at the World Cup as well. East Germany won the Olympic Gold medal in 1976.
Germany is the only nation to have won both the FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
At the end of the 2014 World Cup, Germany earned the second-highest Elo rating of any national football team in history, with a record 2,205 points.
Germany is also the only European nation that has won a FIFA World Cup in the Americas when they won the 2014 title in Brazil.
Lothar Matthäus is Germany’s most capped player while Miroslav Klose is the all-time leading goal scorer for Die Mannschaft.
Miroslav Klose is also the all-time leading goal scorer at the World Cup with 16 to his name in 24 matches. He represented Germany in 4 consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments and was a member of the 2014 winning team.
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The Gibraltar national football team is controlled by the Gibraltar Football Association.
Gibraltar applied for full UEFA membership and was accepted by the UEFA Congress in May 2013 and was therefore allowed to start competing in the UEFA European Championship beginning with the 2016 tournament for which the team competed in qualifying Group D.
On 13th May 2016, Gibraltar became a member of FIFA at the governing body’s 66th Congress which was held in Mexico City. Gibraltar is the smallest UEFA member in terms of both area and population.
Despite not being an island, Gibraltar set up its first official side for the football competition at the 1993 Island Games and has been a regular in the tournament, winning the 2007 edition.
The team plays its home games at the Victoria Stadium. Liam Walker is the nation’s most-capped player while Lee Casciaro is the all-time leading goal scorer.
The Greece national football team is controlled by the Hellenic Football Federation (HFF), the governing body for football in Greece.
Greece play most of their home matches in or near Athens, either in Athens at the Olympic Stadium in Marousi or in the port city of Piraeus at the Karaiskakis Stadium, which is home to Greek champions Olympiacos.
Greece is one of only ten national teams to have been crowned UEFA European Champions.
Hellas had mostly been a small name in international football, and only from the 1980s that experienced the first taste of football achievement, after making their first appearance in a major tournament at UEFA Euro 1980 and although they did not make it through the group stage, their qualification to the then eight-team tournament gave them a position in the top eight European football nations that year.
Greece did not qualify for another major tournament until the 1994 FIFA World Cup and after an undefeated qualifying campaign, they produced a poor performance in the final tournament, losing all three group matches without scoring. Up until 2004, Greece had been mostly a much weaker team in the European football scene.
UEFA Euro 2004 marked the highest point in Greece’s football history when they were crowned European champions in only their second participation in the tournament. Treated as complete underdogs who no one gave a chance to before the tournament, the team defeated some of the favourites in the competition including multiple-time World Cup champions France and hosts Portugal.
During the tournament, Greece defeated the hosts twice – first in the opening game of the tournament during the group stage and again in the final. Their triumph earned them a place in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup.
In the decade after the 2004 victory, Greece qualified for the final tournaments of all but one major competition. They reached the quarterfinals at Euro 2012 and the round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. During that period, they occupied a place in the top 20 of the FIFA World Rankings for all but four months and reached an all-time high of 8th in the world from April to June 2008, as well as in October 2011.
Giorgos Karagounis is Greece’s most-capped player while Nikos Anastopoulos is the nation’s all-time leading goal scorer.
The Hungary national football team is controlled by the Hungarian Football Federation. The team has made nine appearances in the FIFA World Cup finals and four appearances in the European Championship, and plays its home matches at the Puskás Aréna, which opened in November 2019.
Hungary has a respectable football history, having won three Olympic titles, finishing runners-up in the 1938 and 1954 World Cups, and third in the 1964 UEFA European Football Championship.
Hungary revolutionized the sport in the 1950s, laying the tactical fundamentals of Total Football and dominating international football with the remarkable Golden Team which included legend Ferenc Puskás, top goal scorer of the 20th century, to whom FIFA dedicated its newest award – the Puskás Award, which is given to the winner of goal of the season.
The side of that era has the all-time highest Football Elo Ranking in the world, with 2230 in 1954, and one of the longest undefeated runs in football history, remaining unbeaten in 31 games, spanning over four years including the much heralded the Match of the Century in 1953 against England.
Despite these achievements, the Hungarian team faced a severe drought starting from their elimination at the 1986 World Cup, failing to qualify to a major tournament for 30 years and reaching their lowest FIFA ranking (87) in 1996 as well as finishing sixth in their group of Euro 2008 qualifiers, before qualifying to Euro 2016, Euro 2020 and promotion to 2022–23 UEFA Nations League A.
Balázs Dzsudzsák and Gábor Király are Hungary’s most capped players and it is no surprise that Ferenc Puskas is the nation’s all-time leading goal scorer.
The Iceland national football team is controlled by the Football Association of Iceland (KSI), and have been a FIFA member since 1947 and an UEFA member since 1957. The team’s nickname is Strákarnir okkar, which means Our Boys in Icelandic.
The team enjoyed success in the second half of the 2010s. In the qualifying rounds for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Iceland reached the playoffs before losing to Croatia.
The nation reached its first major tournament – UEFA Euro 2016, after a qualification campaign which included home and away wins over the Netherlands.
After advancing to the knockout stages of Euro 2016, Iceland defeated England in the Round of 16, advancing to the quarter-finals, where they lost to host nation France 5–2.
They became the smallest nation by population to ever clinch a FIFA World Cup berth when they qualified for the 2018 tournament on 9th October 2017. They drew with Argentina in their opening match, but went out in the group stage.
Iceland plays its home games at Laugardalsvöllur in Reykjavik.
Rúnar Kristinsson is the country’s most capped player while Eiður Guðjohnsen and Kolbeinn Sigþórsson are the all-time leading goal scorers.
The Israel national football team is governed by the Israel Football Association (IFA).
Israel’s national team is the direct successor of the Mandatory Palestine (Eretz Israel) national football team, which played five internationals in 1934–1940, and was managed by the Eretz Israel Football Association. The Israel Football Association is a part of the European Confederation UEFA since 1994.
The Israeli side qualified for their only FIFA World Cup in 1970. Israel managed to win the 1964 AFC Asian Cup, prior to a forced relocation to UEFA.
Former Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun is Israel’s most-capped player while Mordechai Spiegler is the all-time leading goal scorer.
The Italy national football team has officially represented Italy in international football since their first match in 1910. The squad is under the global jurisdiction of FIFA and is governed in Europe by UEFA—the latter of which was co-founded by the Italian team’s supervising body, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).
Italy’s home matches are played at various stadiums throughout Italy, and their primary training ground, Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano, is located at the FIGC technical headquarters in Coverciano, Florence.
Italy is one of the most successful national teams in the history of the World Cup, having won four titles (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) and appearing in two other finals (1970, 1994), reaching a third place (1990) and a fourth place (1978).
In 1938, they became the first team to defend their World Cup title, and due to the outbreak of World War II, retained the title for a further 12 years.
Italy had also previously won two Central European International Cups (1927–30, 1933–35). Between its first two World Cup victories, Italy won the Olympic football tournament (1936).
After the majority of the team was killed in a plane crash in 1949, the team did not advance past the group stage of the following two World Cup tournaments, and also failed to qualify for the 1958 edition—failure to qualify for the World Cup would not happen again until the 2018 edition.
Italy returned to form by 1968, winning the European Championship, and after a period of alternating unsuccessful qualification rounds in Europe, later appeared in two other finals (2000, 2012). Italy’s highest finish at the FIFA Confederations Cup was in 2013, where the squad achieved a third-place finish.
The team is known as gli Azzurri (the Blues). Savoy blue is the common colour of the national teams representing Italy, as it is the traditional paint of the royal House of Savoy, which reigned over the Kingdom of Italy from 1860 to 1946.
The national team is also known for its long-standing rivalries with other top footballing nations, such as those with Brazil, Croatia, France, Germany and Spain. In the FIFA World Rankings, in force since August 1993, Italy has occupied the first place several times, in November 1993 and during 2007 (February, April–June, September), with its worst placement in August 2018 in 21st place.
Gianluigi Buffon is the nation’s most capped player and Luigi Riva is the all-time leading goal scorer.
The Kazakhstan national football team is governed by the Football Federation of Kazakhstan.
They split from the Soviet Union national football team after independence in 1991 and joined the Asian Football Confederation’s Central Asian Football Federation.
After failing to qualify for the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups, they joined UEFA, but are yet to qualify for a FIFA World Cup or a UEFA European Championship.
The national team’s home stadium is Astana Arena in Nur-Sultan.
Samat Smakov is the nation’s most capped player and Ruslan Baltiev is the all-time leading goalscorer for the Hawks.
The Kosovo national football team represents Kosovo in international men’s football. It is controlled by the Football Federation of Kosovo, the governing body for football in Kosovo.
On 29th November 1942, Kosovo for first time in its history played a friendly match as part of the celebrations for 30th Anniversary of the Independence of Albania against Tirana.
On 17 February 2010, for the first time since the declaration of independence Kosovo played a friendly match against Albania and the match ended with a 2–3 home defeat.
On 3rd May 2016, at the Ordinary Congress, Kosovo were accepted into UEFA after members voted 28–24 in favour of the nation. Ten days later, Kosovo was accepted in FIFA during their 66th congress in Mexico with 141 votes in favour and 23 against.
Kosovo plays its home games at the Fadil Vokrri Stadium in Pristina.
The Latvia national football team is controlled by the Latvian Football Federation, the governing body for football in Latvia.
They have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, however, qualified for the European Championship in 2004 under head coach Aleksandrs Starkovs.
Latvia, alongside their Baltic rivals, Lithuania and Estonia, have also participated in the local sub-regional Baltic Cup tournament, which takes place every two years. Latvia has won the Baltic Cup championship a record 13 times, more than any other country in the history of the tournament.
Latvia’s current home ground is the Daugava Stadium in Riga.
Vitālijs Astafjevs is the most-capped player and Māris Verpakovskis is the country’s all-time leading goal scorer.
The Liechtenstein national football team is the national football team of the Principality of Liechtenstein and is controlled by the Liechtenstein Football Association.
The team’s first match was an unofficial match against Malta in Seoul, a 1–1 draw in 1981. Their first official match came two years later, a 0–1 defeat from Switzerland.
Liechtenstein’s largest win, a 4–0 win over Luxembourg in a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier on 13 October 2004, was both its first ever away win and its first win in any FIFA World Cup qualifier.
Conversely, Liechtenstein is the only country to have lost an official match against San Marino.
Liechtenstein suffered its biggest ever loss in 1996, during qualification for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, losing 1–11 to North Macedonia, which is North Macedonia’s largest ever win to date.
Peter Jehle is Liechtenstein’s most capped player while Mario Frick is the all-time leading goal scorer.
The Lithuania national football team is controlled by the Lithuanian Football Federation, the governing body for football in Lithuania. They played their first match in 1923.
In 1940, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. The country regained its independence in 1990 and played their first match thereafter against Georgia on 27th May.
Although Lithuania has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, nor the UEFA European Championship, they have successfully participated in the local sub-regional Baltic Cup tournament, which takes place every two years between Lithuania and their Baltic rivals, Latvia and Estonia.
Lithuania has won the Baltic Cup championship 11 times, while only Latvia has won it more with 13. Despite this Lithuania holds the record for winning the most consecutive Baltic Cup championships, winning four titles in a row from 1996 to 2000.
Since 2012 the national team has played their home matches at the LFF Stadium in Vilnius.
The Luxembourg national football team is controlled by the Luxembourg Football Federation. The team plays most of its home matches at the Stade Josy Barthel in Luxembourg City.
Luxembourg has participated in every FIFA World Cup qualifiers since those for the 1934 World Cup and in UEFA European Championship qualifiers since those for Euro 1964.
As of 2018, they have never qualified for any major tournaments. Luxembourg is the nation with the most qualifying campaigns in both of these competitions without ever making it to the finals.
The Red Lions have competed in six Olympic football events between 1920 and 1952.
Mario Mutsch is the country’s most capped player and Léon Mart is the all-time leading goal scorer.
The Malta national football team is controlled by the Malta Football Association, the governing body for football in Malta.
The first official game played by Malta was a 3–2 defeat in a friendly against Austria in 1957. Their competitive debut arrived five years later, playing against Denmark in the preliminary round of the 1964 European Nations’ Cup.
Since becoming a UEFA member in 1960 and a FIFA member in 1959, Malta have competed in every qualifier for the European Championship and World Cup, but have never made it to the finals of any major international competition.
Michael Mifsud is the country’s greatest ever footballer. He has the most goals and appearances for the Falcons.
The Moldova national football team is controlled by the Moldovan Football Federation, the governing body for football in Moldova.
Moldova’s home ground is Zimbru Stadium in Chișinău. Shortly before the break-up of the Soviet Union, they played their first match against Georgia on 2nd July 1991.
Two of their three best results in the 1990s came during the qualifiers for UEFA Euro 1996, with wins over Georgia (1–0) in Tbilisi and Wales (3–2) in Chișinău. In 2007, Moldova obtained a very good result, defeating Hungary 3–0 in Chișinău in Euro 2008 qualifying. Their best recent result was a 5–2 win over Montenegro during 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. The team has never qualified for the final stages of the UEFA European Championship nor the FIFA World Cup till date.
The Montenegro national football team has represented Montenegro in international football since 2007. It is controlled by the Football Association of Montenegro, the governing body for football in Montenegro.
Montenegro’s home ground is Podgorica City Stadium in Podgorica.
Montenegro is one of the world’s newest international teams, having joined FIFA and UEFA in 2007, following the restoration of Montenegrin independence in 2006.
Montenegro played its first official international match against Hungary in March 2007, and competed in their first FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 2010.
Fatos Bećiraj holds the record appearances for the nation and Stevan Jovetic is the all-time leading goal scorer for his country.
The Netherlands national football team has represented the Netherlands in international men’s football matches since 1905. The national team is controlled by the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), which is a part of UEFA, and under the jurisdiction of FIFA the governing body for football in the Netherlands.
They are widely considered one of the best teams in world football. Most of the Netherlands’ home matches are played at the Johan Cruyff Arena and the Stadion Feijenoord.
The team is commonly referred to as The Flying Dutchmen or Oranje, after the House of Orange-Nassau and their distinctive orange jerseys. Like the country itself, the team is sometimes referred to as Holland.
The Netherlands has competed in ten FIFA World Cups, appearing in the finals three times (in 1974, 1978 and 2010). They have also appeared in nine UEFA European Championships, winning the 1988 tournament in [West] Germany. Additionally, the team won a bronze medal at the Olympic tournament in 1908, 1912 and 1920.
The Netherlands has long-standing football rivalries with neighbours Belgium and Germany.
Wesley Sneijder is the country’s most capped player while Arsenal legend Robin van Persie is the nation’s greatest ever goalscorer.
The North Macedonia national football team is administered by the Football Federation of Macedonia. The team play their home matches at the Toše Proeski Arena in Skopje.
Since gaining independence from Yugoslavia, North Macedonia has achieved some impressive performances, such as two away draws against England, draws both at home and away to the Netherlands, a home draw with Slovakia, an away draw against Italy, a home wins over Serbia and Croatia, and, in 2021, a shock away win at Germany in the 2022 FIFA World Cup European Qualifiers.
On 12th August 2009, as part of the 100th anniversary of football arriving in what is now North Macedonia, the team played a friendly match against Spain. The hosts lost 3–2 in front of a crowd of 30,000. On 12th November 2020, North Macedonia reached their first ever major tournament, having qualified for UEFA Euro 2020 thanks to their performance in the 2018–19 UEFA Nations League.
Goran Pandev is the country’s greatest ever player as he holds the most caps and goals for the Lynxes.
The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football.
From 1882 to 1920, all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association (IFA).
In 1921, the jurisdiction of the IFA was reduced to Northern Ireland following the secession of clubs in the soon-to-be Irish Free State, although its team remained the national team for all of Ireland until 1950, and used the name Ireland until the 1970s.
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) organises the separate Republic of Ireland national football team.
Although part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has always had a representative side that plays in major professional tournaments – whether alongside the rest of Ireland pre-1922 or as its own entity – though not in the Olympic Games, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has always recognised United Kingdom representative sides.
Northern Ireland has competed in three FIFA World Cups, reaching the quarter-final stage in the 1958 and 1982 tournaments. Northern Ireland held the accolade of being the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup Finals from their first appearance in 1958 until 2006, when Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the 2006 World Cup.
At UEFA Euro 2016, the team made its first appearance at the European tournament and reached the round of 16.
Steven Davies is Northern Ireland’s most capped player while David Healy has netted the most goals for the country.
The Norway national football team is controlled by the Norwegian Football Federation, the governing body for football in Norway. Norway’s home ground is Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo.
In February 2019, they were ranked by FIFA at #48. Norway has participated three times in the FIFA World Cup (1938, 1994, 1998), and once in the UEFA European Championship (2000).
Norway is, along with Senegal, the only national team that remains unbeaten in all matches against Brazil. In four matches, Norway has a play record against Brazil of 2 wins and 2 draws, in three friendlies matches (in 1988, 1997 and 2006) and a 1998 World Cup group stage match.
Former Liverpool player John Arne Riise is Norway’s most capped player while Jorgen Juve has the most goals for the country.
The Poland national football team has represented Poland in men’s international football competitions since their first match in 1921. The team is controlled by the Polish Football Association, the governing body for football in Poland.
Poland has competed at eight FIFA World Cups with their first appearance being in 1938 where they were eliminated by Brazil. The country’s best result is a bronze medal in 1974 and 1982, with this era being regarded as the golden era of Polish international football.
At the UEFA European Championship, Poland’s best result was a quarter-finals appearance at the 2016 tournament before losing to eventual champions Portugal.
Overall, they have competed in three European Championships with their debut being in 2008. They were co-hosts of the 2012 edition, along with Ukraine.
Overall, Poland’s best ever result in international football tournaments was the gold medal won at the 1972 Munich Olympics, along with winning the silver medal on two occasions – at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
One of the best ever strikers to play football – Former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski is Poland’s greatest ever player. He also has the most appearances and goals for his country.
The Portugal national football team has represented Portugal in international men’s football competition since 1921. It is controlled by the Portuguese Football Federation, the governing body for football in Portugal.
Portugal’s first participation in a major tournament final was at the 1966 World Cup, which saw a team featuring Ballon d’Or winner Eusébio finish in third place. The next two times Portugal qualified for the World Cup finals were in 1986 and 2002, going out in the first round both times.
Portugal also made it to the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro 1984 final tournament, losing 3–2 after extra time to the hosts and eventual winners France.
During this period, Portugal was not part of a group of teams that were candidates to win titles, but from 2000 until this present day, the team evolved, being present in all the final stages of major tournaments.
This was in great part due to the production of several world-class players by Portugal, such as Luís Figo, Rui Costa, Ricardo Carvalho, and Cristiano Ronaldo who is counted among the best players in history.
This golden generation helped Portugal reach the semi-finals of Euro 2000, losing 2–1 after extra time to eventual winners France, securing second place at Euro 2004 Final after losing to Greece on home soil, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup losing to finalist France, after a penalty, ending in the fourth place after losing to 3–1 to hosts Germany, thus being the best result of the country in the World Cup since 1966.
Despite losing many players of the golden generation, new players such as Fábio Coentrão, João Moutinho, Nani and Pepe helped the Portuguese reach the semi-finals of Euro 2012, losing to Spain in penalties, with Cristiano Ronaldo finishing as joint top scorer of the tournament with three goals.
In 2014, Fernando Santos was appointed as the new head coach for the national team. Two years later at Euro 2016, Santos brought Portugal its first-ever major trophy, defeating hosts France 1–0 after extra time, with the winning goal scored by Eder.
With the win, Portugal qualified and made its only appearance in the FIFA Confederations Cup held in Russia, where they finished in third place. Portugal hosted the inaugural 2018–19 UEFA Nations League as well as winning the trophy, defeating the Netherlands 1–0, with the winning goal scored by Gonçalo Guedes, making it the second major tournament earned by the Portuguese in three finals.
Portugal is known as the Seleção das Quinas and has notable rivalries with Brazil, with whom they share many common cultural ties and with Spain—known as The Iberian War, with the rivalry between two countries going back to 1581!
The team’s home stadium is the Estádio Nacional, in Oeiras, although most of their home games are frequently played in other stadiums across the country.
Cristiano Ronaldo is not only Portugal’s greatest player but one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game. He holds the team record for most caps and for most goals and will most likely never be beaten.
Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland national football team is governed by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).
The team made their debut at the 1924 Summer Olympics, reaching the quarter-finals. Between 1924 and 1936, the team competed as the Irish Free State and from then until 1950, it was referred to by the FAI as Éire or Ireland.
In 1953, FIFA decreed that for competitive matches in tournaments that both Irish teams may enter, the FAI team would be officially called the Republic of Ireland while the IFA team was to be named Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland was allowed to use the title Ireland by FIFA in the Home International Competition until it was discontinued in 1984.
The Republic of Ireland was the first nation from outside the United Kingdom to defeat England at home in a fixture played at Goodison Park, Liverpool, in 1949.
The team also reached the quarter-final stage of the 1964 European Nations’ Cup, where they lost to the eventual champions Spain.
Under the guidance of Jack Charlton, the team enjoyed its most successful era, reaching their highest FIFA world ranking ever at sixth in August 1993, and qualifying for UEFA Euro 1988 in their first appearance at the UEFA European Championship, reaching the quarter-finals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in their first ever appearance at the finals, as well as making the last 16 at the 1994 edition.
Charlton’s successor Mick McCarthy lost out on the next two major tournaments but ultimately qualified for the 2002 World Cup, making it to the last 16, repeating the feat at the UEFA Euro 2016 with Martin O’Neill.
The team’s home stadium is the Aviva Stadium, in Dublin, although some of their home games have been played in other stadiums across the country.
Their traditional colours are green shirts and white shorts. Robbie Keane is the greatest Irish to ever wear the national colours having the most appearances and goals for his country.
The Romania national football team is administered by the Romanian Football Federation. They are commonly known as Tricolorii (The Tricolours).
Romania is one of the only four national teams from Europe—the other three being Belgium, France, Yugoslavia—that took part in the first FIFA World Cup in 1930. Since that performance, Romania have qualified for the 1934, 1938, 1970, 1990, 1994, and 1998 editions.
Led by playmaker Gheorghe Hagi, the team’s finest hour came in 1994 when it reached the quarter-finals. They were eliminated by Sweden after a penalty shoot-out having previously defeated giants Argentina.
At the European Championships, Romania’s best performance was in 2000 when they advanced to the quarter-finals from a group with Germany, Portugal and England, before falling to eventual runners-up Italy. Adrian Mutu was the hero back then as he was one of the best goal scorers at the time.
They also reached the last eight in 1960 and 1972, and qualified for the 1984, 1996, 2008, and 2016 tournaments. The national team plays its home games at Arena Națională in Bucharest.
Dorinel Munteanu is the most capped player for the Romanians while Gheorghe Hagi and Adrian Mutu are joint leading goal scorers for their nation.
The Russia national football team represents the Russian Federation in men’s international football and is controlled by the Russian Football Union, the governing body for football in Russia. Russia’s home ground is the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Although a member of FIFA since 1912 (as the Soviet Union before 1990), Russia first entered the FIFA World Cup in 1958. They qualified for the tournament 11 times in total, with their best result being their fourth-place finish in 1966.
Russia has been a member of UEFA since 1954. They won the first edition of the European Championship in 1960 and were runners-up in 1964, 1972 and 1988.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia’s best result was in 2008, when the team won the bronze medal.
Sergei Ignashevich has the most appearances for Russia while Aleksandr Kerzhakov is the country’s greatest ever goal scorer.
The San Marino national football team is controlled by the San Marino Football Federation (FSGC). The team represents the second smallest population of any UEFA member.
The first official game played by a San Marino team was a 4–0 defeat in a European Championships qualifier by Switzerland in 1990. Previously, a San Marino side played an unofficial match against a Canadian Olympic team in 1986, losing 1–0.
Since making their competitive debut, San Marino have competed in the qualifiers of every European Championship and World Cup, but have never won a match in either competition. They have only ever won one game, beating Liechtenstein 1–0 in a friendly match on 28 April 2004.
Until November 2014, San Marino were tied in last place in the FIFA World Rankings, a run that lasted since the rankings were given a new calculation methodology. They were tied for last with Bhutan (208th) in the October 2014 rankings, but a 0–0 draw with Estonia during the Euro 2016 qualifying rounds ended their tenure at the bottom of the rankings.
The national side scored their first away goal in fourteen years against another Baltic side, Lithuania, during the same qualifying rounds. When the ranking methodology got revised again, the team fell back to the bottom, following a 1–0 loss to Moldova in the UEFA Nations League.
San Marino’s national team is sometimes considered the worst national side in the history of the sport, as they have only ever won a single match and concede an average of over 4 goals per game, although as a member of UEFA they face stronger competition than many other low-ranked sides.
Andy Selva has the most appearances and goals for the side in the history of the country’s international football.
The Scotland national football team is controlled by the Scottish Football Association. It competes in the three major professional tournaments – the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Nations League and the UEFA European Championship.
Scotland, as a country of the United Kingdom, is not a member of the International Olympic Committee and therefore the national team does not compete in the Olympic Games but competes jointly with Northern Ireland, Wales and England. The majority of Scotland’s home matches are played at the national stadium, Hampden Park.
Scotland is the joint oldest national football team in the world, alongside England, whom they played in the world’s first international football match in 1872. Scotland has a long-standing rivalry with England whom they played annually from 1872 until 1989.
Scotland have qualified for the FIFA World Cup on eight occasions and the UEFA European Championship three times, but have never progressed beyond the first group stage of a finals tournament.
The team have achieved some noteworthy results, such as beating the 1966 FIFA World Cup winners England 3–2 at Wembley Stadium in 1967. Archie Gemmill scored what has been described as one of the greatest World Cup goals ever in a 3–2 win during the 1978 World Cup against the Netherlands, who reached the final of the tournament.
In their qualifying group for UEFA Euro 2008, Scotland defeated 2006 World Cup runners-up France 1-0 in both fixtures.
Kenny Dalglish holds the record for Scotland appearances, having played 102 times between 1971 and 1986. Liverpool legend Dalglish scored 30 goals for Scotland and shares the record for most goals scored with Manchester United legend Denis Law.
The Serbia national football team is controlled by the Football Association of Serbia, the governing body for football in Serbia.
With the national team nicknamed the Orlovi (The Eagles), football has a long history in Serbia. Serbia competed under the various forms of Yugoslav national teams where it achieved considerable success, playing the final at the 1960 and 1968 European Championships and finishing fourth at the 1930 and 1962 World Cups.
Considered by FIFA and UEFA to be the onIy official successor of both the Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro national teams, the achievements of the promising team of the 1990s (which featured Serbian players such as Dragan Stojković, Savo Milošević, Predrag Mijatović, Vladimir Jugović and Siniša Mihajlović) was somewhat curbed due to international sanctions imposed against Yugoslavia at the time due to the Yugoslav Wars.
Following the dissolution of Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia has played as an independent nation since 2006, and qualified for the World Cup in 2010 and 2018. At both World Cups, Serbia were eliminated at the group stage, but did record their most memorable moment at the 2010 World Cup, beating bitter rivals Germany 1–0, with Milan Jovanović scoring the winning goal.
Serbia usually uses the home of Red Star Belgrade, the Red Star Stadium, as their home ground. Occasionally, the Partizan Stadium is also used.
Former Chelsea player Branislav Ivanović is the country’s most capped player and Aleksandar Mitrović is Serbia’s all-time leading goal scorer.
The Slovakia national football team is governed by the Slovak Football Association (SFZ), the governing body for football in Slovakia. Slovakia’s home stadium from 2019 is the reconstructed Tehelné pole in Bratislava.
Slovakia is one of the newest national football teams in the world, having split from the Czechoslovakia national team after the dissolution of the unified state in 1993. Slovakia maintains its own national side that competes in all major tournaments since.
Slovakia has so far, qualified for three major international tournaments – the 2010 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2016, and UEFA Euro 2020.
Slovakia qualified to the FIFA World Cup in 2010 after winning their qualifying group, despite two defeats against Slovenia. At the World Cup, Slovakia progressed beyond the group stage after a 3–2 win against Italy, before bowing out of the tournament after a 2–1 defeat in the knockout stage against the eventual runners-up Netherlands.
It was the first time the national team ever played in a major football competition, after playing every FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign since 1998 and every UEFA European Football Championship qualifying campaign since 1996, after a 50-year absence from international football due to representing part of the Czechoslovakia team.
The nation did come close to securing a berth at the 2006 finals in Germany, after finishing second in their group ahead of Russia and behind Portugal, before drawing Spain in their qualification play-off, in which the Slovaks lost 2-6 on aggregate.
The national team have achieved some noteworthy results such as the aforementioned win over the then title holders Italy at the 2010 World Cup, and a 1–0 win against Russia in September 2010.
Despite this success however, the team later dropped down the rankings and a considerable drop in form went with this, as the team failed to qualify for Euro 2012 finishing their group in fourth place.
They also only scored seven goals in the group, only more than minnows Andorra. Slovakia then failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, but secured a spot in France for Euro 2016 under head coach Ján Kozák, which helped the team reach their best-ever position of 14th in the FIFA World Rankings.
Slovakia’s traditional rival is the Czech Republic and the side are known as The Falcons (Sokoli).
Marek Hamšík is the nation’s greatest ever player having the most caps and goals for the side.
The Slovenia national football team is governed by the Football Association of Slovenia, the governing body for football in Slovenia.
Between 1920 and 1991, Slovenian players played for the Yugoslavia national football team. Slovenia played its first official match in 1992, a year after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia.
The Slovenian national team has participated in three major football competitions. In 1999, Slovenia qualified for the UEFA Euro 2000 after eliminating Ukraine in a playoff.
Slovenia achieved further success two years later, qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, by beating Romania in a playoff. The team did not lose a match in its whole qualifying campaign, finishing second with six wins and six draws, but did not obtain any points in the group stage of the finals.
Despite failing to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Slovenia was the only team to defeat the eventual World Cup winners Italy during the campaign.
Slovenia qualified for its last major tournament in 2009 after defeating Russia in a playoff to clinch a berth for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The national team plays its home games at the Stožice Stadium in Ljubljana. Boštjan Cesar is the country’s most capped player while Zlatko Zahovič has netted the most goals for his country.
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak, however, may be the greatest ever talent hailing out of Slovenia.
The Spain national football team represents Spain in international men’s football competitions since 1920. It is governed by the Royal Spanish Football Federation, the governing body for football in Spain.
Spain are one of the eight national teams to have been crowned worldwide champions, having participated in a total of 15 of 21 FIFA World Cups and qualifying consistently since 1978.
Spain has also won three continental titles, having appeared at 10 of 15 UEFA European Championships.
Spain is the only national team with three consecutive major titles, becoming the first European team to win a FIFA World Cup outside of Europe in 2010, as well as the only one to win back-to-back European Championships when they did so in 2008 and 2012.
From 2008 to 2013, the national team won the FIFA Team of the Year, the second-most by any nation, behind only Brazil. Between February 2007 and June 2009, Spain went undefeated for a record-equalling 35 consecutive matches, shared with Brazil.
Their achievements have led many experts and commentators to consider the 2008–2012 Spanish squad the best ever international side in world football.
Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos is the nation’s most capped player and David Villa is the all-time leading goal scorer.
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The Sweden national football team is controlled by the Swedish Football Association, the governing body of football in Sweden. Sweden’s home ground is Friends Arena in Solna.
From 1945 to late 1950s, the Swedes were considered one of the greatest teams in Europe.
Sweden has made twelve appearances at the World Cup with their first coming in 1934. They have also made six appearances at the European Championship.
Sweden finished second at the 1958 FIFA World Cup, and third in both 1950 and 1994. Sweden’s other accomplishments also include a gold medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics, and bronze medals in 1924 and 1952. They also reached the semi-finals at UEFA Euro 1992.
Anders Svensson is the nation’s most capped player and world renowned Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the country’s all-time leading goal scorer.
The Switzerland national football team is controlled by the Swiss Football Association.
Switzerland’s best performances at the FIFA World Cup were three quarter-final appearances, in 1934, 1938 and 1954.
They hosted the competition in 1954, where they played against Austria in the quarter-final match, losing 7–5, which today still stands as the highest scoring ever World Cup match.
At the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Switzerland set a FIFA World Cup record by being eliminated from the tournament despite not conceding a single goal, when they were eliminated by Ukraine on penalties in the round of sixteen.
They did not concede a goal until a match against Chile at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, conceding in the 75th minute, which set a World Cup finals record for consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.
Switzerland and Austria were the co-hosts of UEFA Euro 2008, where the Swiss made their third appearance in the competition, but failed for a third time to progress from the group stage.
Overall, Switzerland’s best ever result at an official football competition was the silver medal they earned in 1924, after losing to Uruguay 3–0 in the final of the 1924 Olympic Games.
Heinz Hermann is the A-Team’s most capped player and Alexander Frei is the country’s all-time leading goal scorer.
The Turkey national football team is controlled by the Turkish Football Federation, the governing body for football in Turkey, which was founded in 1923 and has been a member of FIFA since 1923 and UEFA since 1962.
The team played their first official international game in 1923 and has represented the nation in major competitions since their debut appearance at the 1924 Summer Olympics. They have participated in Summer Olympics a total of six times (1924, 1928, 1936, 1948, 1952 and 1960), and reached the quarter-finals twice, in 1948 and 1952.
The team enjoyed their highest achievements in the 2000s, most notably reaching the semi-finals at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup and UEFA Euro 2008.
They qualified for the FIFA World Cup three times (1950, 1954 and 2002) and reached the semi-finals in 2002, winning the bronze medal.
The team qualified for UEFA European Championships five times. Making their debut at Euro 96, they reached the quarter-finals in Euro 2000 and semi-finals in Euro 2008. In recent years, Turkey qualified for Euro 2016 and Euro 2020.
Turkey have never been pushovers and can beat anyone on their day. They have always been tough to beat and prove their mettle on the international stage.
Since its introduction in 1992, the FIFA World Rankings have ranked Turkey between 5th and 57th place. Following their success at the 2002 World Cup, Turkey managed to stay in the top 10 in rankings between 2002 and 2004, ranking at 5th in June 2004.
The team climbed once again up to 10th place in December 2008, following their success at Euro 2008. Turkey achieved their highest victory margin with 7–0 wins over Syria in 1949, South Korea in 1954 and San Marino in 1996, while their biggest losses were 8–0 defeats to Poland in 1968 and England in 1984 and 1987.
Rüştü Reçber is the most capped player for the Turks, and the all-time leading scorer is Hakan Şükür.
The Ukraine national football team is governed by the Ukrainian Association of Football, the governing body for football in Ukraine. Ukraine’s home ground is the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv. The team has been a full member of UEFA and FIFA since 1992.
After Ukrainian Independence and the country’s breakaway from the Soviet Union, they played their first match against Hungary on 29 April 1992. The team’s biggest success on the world stage was reaching the quarter-finals in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which also marked the team’s debut in the finals of a major championship.
As the host nation, Ukraine automatically qualified for UEFA Euro 2012. Four years later, Ukraine qualified for Euro 2016 via the play-off route, the first time qualifying for a UEFA European Championship via the qualifying process, as they finished in third place in their qualifying group.
This marked the first time in Ukraine’s five play-off appearances that it managed to win such a tie, previously having been unsuccessful in the play-off ties for the Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup, 2010 World Cup and 2014 World Cup.
Ukraine is seen as a specific case of being a successful youth football power in Europe and the world, yet fails to deliver the same taste at senior stage.
The U-20 team of Ukraine have been world champions at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, while the U-21 team won the silver medal in the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. However, in spite of this rich record at the youth level, the senior side did not have the same level of achievement to look back at.
While the Ukrainian senior side managed to reach the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup, the team failed to enter the knockout stages at Euro 2012 and Euro 2016, and have not returned to the World Cup since.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is the most capped player while former world class talent Andriy Shevchenko is the all-time leading goal scorer for the Yellow and Blue.
The Wales national football team is controlled by the Football Association of Wales (FAW), the governing body for football in Wales and the third-oldest national football association in the world, founded in 1876.
The Cardiff City Stadium is where Wales plays its home games.
The team recorded the biggest rise in the history of the FIFA World Rankings, moving from 117th in 2011 to 8th place in 2015. They are also the smallest nation by population to ever reach the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championship, after reaching the UEFA Euro 2016 semi-finals.
In addition to reaching the semi-finals of UEFA Euro 2016, Wales reached the quarter-finals of the 1958 FIFA World Cup and qualified for UEFA Euro 2020.
Historically, the Welsh team has featured a number of players from Wales’ top club teams – Cardiff City and Swansea City. These two Welsh clubs play in the English league system alongside fellow Welsh clubs Newport County, Wrexham and Merthyr Town.
However, the majority of Welsh football clubs play in the Welsh football league system.
Chris Gunter has the most caps for The Dragons and superstar Gareth Bale is the country’s all-time leading goal scorer.