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England’s five most embarrassing defeats ranked

England have suffered some embarrassing defeats in their history. Here are five of the worst...

For all the criticism sent his way, Gareth Southgate appears to have turned England into a solid, stable side that is unlikely to be humbled by a minnow or hammered by a fellow heavyweight.

That hasn’t always been the case.

Read on, if you dare, to discover England’s worst five defeats…


5. Northern Ireland 1-0 England, World Cup 2006 qualifying

A defeat which, at the time, put England’s place at the 2006 World Cup in real jeopardy. As it was, Sven Goran-Eriksson’s men did advance but not without a humbling evening at Windsor Park.

Eriksson opted to start Wayne Rooney wide left and David Beckham in a midfield holding role and it meant the Three Lions were disjointed and disorganised.

David Healy scored the only goal with 17 minutes to go to give the home side a stunning victory.


4. Norway 2-1 England, World Cup 1982 qualifying

The embarrassment came only partially from the game – England losing to a side that were classed as a European minnow at the time.

The real shame came from the famous commentary that accompanied the final whistle.

As Bjorge Lillelien put it: “Lord Nelson! Lord Beaverbrook! Sir Winston Churchill! Sir Anthony Eden! Clement Attlee! Henry Cooper! Lady Diana! Maggie Thatcher – can you hear me, Maggie Thatcher! Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating.”


3. Germany 4-1 England, World Cup 2010

Fabio Capello’s England stank out the tournament pretty much from the outset so a hammering from Germany was perhaps a fitting way to exit in the last 16.

Having come second in a group that also contained the United States, Algeria and Slovenia, England were no match for the Germans in Bloemfontein.

Yes, Frank Lampard’s goal should have stood – the ball clearly crossing the line – but it would have masked a dire display that saw Germany hand England their worst defeat at a World Cup finals thanks to goals from Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and a Thomas Müller brace.


Thomas Muller


2. United States 1-0 England, World Cup 1950

At a time when the US barely took ‘soccer’ seriously they still managed to humble an England side containing the likes of Stanley Matthews, Billy Wright and Tom Finney.

Joe Gaetjens scored the only goal after 38 minutes in Belo Horizonte as England’s first World Cup appearance ended in embarrassment at the hands of the part-timers.


1. Iceland 2-1 England, Euro 2016

A truly shambolic performance that saw England dumped out of Euro 2016 at the last-16 stage and prompted the resignation of head coach Roy Hodgson.

England had stumbled through the group phase, coming second behind Wales following draws with Russia in Marseille – a match overshadowed by appalling fan violence in the port city – and Slovakia in Saint-Etienne.

But just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, up popped Iceland to send England home. 

It started well, Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty putting the Three Lions in front but, within 12 minutes, England were behind after goals from Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

Hodgson made changes and England rallied but Iceland deservedly held on for the most famous win in their history.

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.