Northern Ireland national football team


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.[2][n 1] The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) organises the separate Republic of Ireland national football team.

Northern Ireland
Nickname(s)Green and White Army,
Norn Iron
AssociationIrish Football Association
ConfederationUEFA (Europe)
Head coachIan Baraclough
CaptainSteven Davis
Most capsSteven Davis (126)
Top scorerDavid Healy (36)
Home stadiumWindsor Park
FIFA codeNIR
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 48 (27 May 2021)[1]
Highest20 (September 2017)
Lowest129 (September 2012)
First international
 Ireland 0–13 England 
(Belfast; 18 February 1882)
as Northern Ireland
 Northern Ireland 1–4 England 
(Belfast; 7 October 1950)
Biggest win
 Ireland 7–0 Wales 
(Belfast; 1 February 1930)
as Northern Ireland
 Northern Ireland 5–0 Cyprus 
(Belfast; 21 April 1971)
 Faroe Islands 0–5 Northern Ireland 
(Landskrona; 11 September 1991)
Biggest defeat
 Ireland 0–13 England 
(Belfast; 18 February 1882)
as Northern Ireland
 Netherlands 6–0 Northern Ireland 
(Amsterdam; 2 June 2012)
World Cup
Appearances3 (first in 1958)
Best resultQuarter-finals, 1958
European Championship
Appearances1 (first in 2016)
Best resultRound of 16, 2016

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.

History


On 18 February 1882, 15 months after the founding of the Irish FA, Ireland made their international debut against England, losing 13–0 in a friendly played at Bloomfield in Belfast. This remains the record defeat for the team, and also England's largest winning margin. On 25 February 1882, Ireland played their second international, against Wales at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, and an equaliser from Johnston became Ireland's first ever goal.

In 1884, Ireland competed in the inaugural British Home Championship and lost all three games. Ireland did not win their first game until 19 February 1887, a 4–1 win over Wales in Belfast. Between their debut and this game, they had a run of 14 defeats and 1 draw, the longest run without a win in the 1800s. Despite the end of this run, heavy defeats continued. On 3 March 1888, they lost 11–0 to Wales and three weeks later, on 24 March, lost 10–2 to Scotland. Further heavy defeats came on 15 March 1890 when they lost 9–1 to England, on 18 February 1899 when they lost 13–2 to England and on 2 February 1901 when they lost 11–0 to Scotland.

In 1899, the Irish FA also changed its rules governing the selection of non-resident players. Before then the Ireland team selected its players exclusively from the Irish League, in particular the three Belfast-based clubs Linfield, Cliftonville and Distillery. On 4 March 1899, for the match against Wales, McAteer included four Irish players based in England. The change in policy produced dividends as Ireland won 1–0. Three weeks later, on 25 March, one of these four players, Archie Goodall, aged 34 years and 279 days, became the oldest player to score in international football during the 19th century when he scored Ireland's goal in a 9–1 defeat to Scotland.

In 1920, Ireland was partitioned into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. In 1922, Southern Ireland gained independence as the Irish Free State, later to become a republic under the name of Ireland. Amid these political upheavals, a rival football association, the Football Association of Ireland, emerged in Dublin in 1921 and organised a separate league and international team. In 1923, at a time when the home nations had withdrawn from FIFA, the FAI was recognised by FIFA as the governing body of the Irish Free State on the condition that it changed its name to the Football Association of the Irish Free State. The Irish FA continued to organise its national team on an all-Ireland basis.

Between 1928 and 1946, the IFA were not affiliated to FIFA and the two Ireland teams co-existed, never competing in the same competition. On 8 March 1950, however, in a 0–0 draw with Wales at the Racecourse Ground in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, the IFA fielded a team that included four players who were born in the Irish Free State. All four players had previously played for the FAI in their qualifiers and as a result had played for two different associations in the same FIFA World Cup tournament.

After complaints from the FAI, FIFA intervened and restricted players' eligibility based on the political border. In 1953 FIFA ruled neither team could be referred to as Ireland, decreeing that the FAI team be officially designated as the Republic of Ireland, while the IFA team was to become Northern Ireland.

Past performances


British Home Championship

Until the 1950s, the major competition for Northern Ireland/Ireland was the British Home Championship. The team won the competition eight times, taking the title outright on three occasions. They were the last winners of the now defunct competition held in 1984, and hence still are the British champions, and the trophy remains the property of the Irish FA.

FIFA World Cup

Danny Blanchflower (left) captained Northern Ireland at the 1958 FIFA World Cup, while George Best (right), winner of the 1968 Ballon d'Or, never reached a major international tournament with the team

Northern Ireland's best World Cup performance was in their first appearance in the finals, the 1958 World Cup, where they reached the quarter-finals after beating Czechoslovakia 2–1 in the play-off. They were knocked out by France, losing 4–0. In the 1958 competition, Northern Ireland became the least populous country to have qualified for the World Cup, a record that stood until Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the 2006 World Cup. Northern Ireland remains, however, the least populous country to have qualified for more than one World Cup finals tournament, to win a World Cup finals match, and to have progressed from the first round of the World Cup finals.

Captain of the national side at the 1958 World Cup was Danny Blanchflower, who also captained Tottenham Hotspur in the English league and was twice footballer of the year in England. His younger brother Jackie was also a key member of the national team, and won two league titles in England with Manchester United, until his career was ended by injuries suffered in the Munich air disaster of February 1958.

Despite the presence of world class forward George Best, another Manchester United player, for the 1960s and 1970s, Northern Ireland failed to qualify for any major tournaments.

Northern Ireland also qualified for the 1982 World Cup. Their opening game was against Yugoslavia at La Romareda stadium in Zaragoza. It was the international debut of 17-year-old Norman Whiteside, who became the youngest player ever in the World Cup finals, a record that still stands. The game finished goalless. Five days later, they drew 1–1 with Honduras, which was a disappointment, and many believed had doomed Northern Ireland's chances of advancing in the competition.[6] They needed a win against hosts Spain in the third and final group game at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia. They faced a partisan atmosphere with a mostly Spanish crowd and a Spanish-speaking referee in Héctor Ortiz who was unwilling to punish dirty play from the Spanish players.[7] A mistake from Spain goalkeeper Luis Arconada, however, gifted Gerry Armstrong the only goal of the game, and despite having Mal Donaghy sent off on 60 minutes, Northern Ireland went on to record an historic 1–0 win and top the first stage group.

A 2–2 draw with Austria at the Vicente Calderón Stadium meant that a win against France would take them into the semi-finals, however a French team inspired by Michel Platini won 4–1 and eliminated Northern Ireland from the competition.

In the 1986 World Cup, they reached the first round. Billy Bingham, a member of the 1958 squad, was manager for both of these tournaments. They have not qualified for any other World Cups since.

Recent history

The Our Wee Country mural in east Belfast commemorating Northern Ireland beating England at home in 2005.

Lawrie Sanchez was appointed in January 2004 after a run of ten games without a goal under the previous manager Sammy McIlroy, which was a European record for any international team until San Marino went over 20 games without scoring between October 2008 and August 2012. That run ended after his first game in charge, a 1–4 loss to Norway in a friendly in February 2004. The run of 16 games without a win ended after his second game, a 1–0 victory in a friendly over Estonia, with a largely experimental side, in March 2004.

On 7 September 2005, Northern Ireland beat England 1–0 in a 2006 World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park. David Healy scored the winner in the 73rd minute. Almost a year later, on 6 September 2006, Northern Ireland defeated Spain 3–2 in a qualifier for UEFA Euro 2008, with Healy scoring a hat-trick. In June 2007, Nigel Worthington was named manager in the place of Lawrie Sanchez, who took over at Fulham. Initially, Worthington took over until the end of the Euro 2008 qualifiers, but was later given a contract until the end of the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Michael O'Neill became manager in February 2012 after Worthington had resigned in October 2011 after a poor Euro 2012 qualification campaign.

The Northern Ireland team qualified for its first ever UEFA European Championship, Euro 2016 in France, after beating Greece 3–1 at Windsor Park on 8 October 2015.[8] At the tournament, Northern Ireland were beaten 1-0 by Poland on 20 June 2016 followed by a 2–0 win against Ukraine on 16 June 2016 and finally a 1-0 loss against Germany in the group stage. That was enough to qualify for a Round of 16 spot where they lost 1-0 to Wales due to an unfortunate own goal by Gareth McAuley.[9]

Stadium


Windsor Park before the recent redevelopment – a view from the Kop Stand, showing the two-tiered North Stand and the low Railway stand behind the opposite goal

Northern Ireland play their home matches at Windsor Park, Belfast, home of Linfield, which they have use of on a 108-year lease, giving the owners 15% of revenue, including gate receipts and TV rights.[10]

There was a proposal to build a multisports stadium for Northern Ireland at the disused Maze prison outside Lisburn for the use of Rugby, Gaelic games and football.[11] This plan was given an "in principle" go-ahead by the Irish Football Association. However, it was opposed by fans, over 85% of whom in a match day poll conducted by the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs ("AONISC") preferred to stay at a smaller new or redeveloped ground in the city of Belfast.[12] The AONISC organised a protest against the move to the Maze at the game against Estonia in March 2006.

The issue assumed ever greater urgency by 2007, following a series of inspections which questioned the suitability of Windsor Park to host international football.[13] Following a reduction of capacity due to the closure of the Railway Stand, the IFA made it known that they wished to terminate their contract for the use of the stadium.[14] A report on health and safety in October 2007 indicated that the South Stand might have to be closed for internationals, which would further reduce the stadium's capacity to 9,000.[15] In April 2008, Belfast City Council announced that they had commissioned Drivers Jonas to conduct a feasibility study into the building of a Sports Stadium in Belfast which could accommodate international football, which was followed at the beginning of May 2008 by speculation that the Maze Stadium project was going to be radically revised by Peter Robinson, the finance and personnel minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly, so that any construction might be used for purposes other than football, rugby union and Gaelic games. Given the time that is needed to build a new stadium, in the absence of significant work improving Windsor Park, it seemed to be likely that Northern Ireland might be forced to play their home games at a venue outside Northern Ireland for a period.

In March 2009, proposals were announced for the construction of a new 25,000 seat stadium in the Sydenham area of East Belfast as an alternative to the Maze proposal. This would form part of a major development, with links to both George Best Belfast City Airport and the Bangor railway line. The development would also include a hotel, and retail/leisure areas. The stadium itself would be used for both football and rugby union, with Glentoran and Ulster Rugby intended as tenants. Ulster GAA, however, who were a partner in the Maze proposal, stated that in the event of a new stadium being built in East Belfast, which is a major unionist area, their preference would then be to remain at Casement Park in nationalist west Belfast.[16]

The new redeveloped Windsor Park. View from the Kop (West Stand) with only the corner between the West & North stands yet to be completed.

The IFA were initially non-committal about any of the proposals for improving their facilities, be it rebuilding Windsor Park, or supporting either the Maze or Sydenham proposals. In September 2009, however, they issued an announcement in favour of the redevelopment of Windsor Park.[17] Although there were no specifics to this, Linfield had previously released a study with two proposals, of which the major one would be a £20 million rebuilding of the stadium, raising the spectator capacity to 20,000.[18] In 2011, the Northern Ireland Executive allocated £138 million for a major programme of stadium redevelopment throughout Northern Ireland, with £28 million allocated to the redevelopment of Windsor Park.[19] In June 2012, further details of the stadium's redevelopment were released. The plan was to redevelop Windsor Park into an 18,000 all-seater stadium with a series of phased works originally intended to begin in the summer of 2013. The redevelopment would include the demolition of the existing East and South Stand structures, to be replaced by new purpose built stands that would partially enclose the stadium; complete renovation of the existing North and West Stands; and construction of both new conferencing facilities and a new headquarters facility for the IFA.[20]

In February 2013, planning permission for the redevelopment was granted. The cost of the project was estimated to be around £29.2 million, of which £25.2 million would come from government funding. It was initially planned for the work to begin in September 2013.[21] Two months later however, Irish Premiership club Crusaders began legal proceedings to have the process judicially reviewed. As owners of the site, rivals Linfield were in line to receive not only a redeveloped stadium, but also £200,000 per annum from the IFA in land rent instead of the existing agreement which entitled Linfield to 15% of match revenue. Crusaders believed this to be against European Union competition law as well as a form of state aid towards Linfield.[22] In a hearing that took place on 22 May 2013, Crusaders' request was granted. It was ruled that it was a possibility for the redevelopment to be classed as state aid towards Linfield. The aspect of the challenge concerning competition law, however, was dismissed.[23]

In July 2013, Crusaders agreed to a possible settlement brought forward by the judicial review. The details of the settlement were not made public, but Crusaders said that it had the "potential to benefit the entirety of the football family".[24] In September 2013, sports minister Carál Ní Chuilín said that she was still committed to making sure the redevelopment went ahead as scheduled, after previously stating that she would not sign off on the funding until the IFA resolved "governance issues" surrounding David Martin's return to the role of deputy president.[25] In December 2013, three months after the work was originally scheduled to begin, the redevelopment was finally given the green light. The sports minister signed off on £31 million to complete the project. The redevelopment finally got under way on 6 May 2014 after the 2013–14 domestic season had finished, eight months later than originally planned. The work is due to be completed in 2015.[26]

Supporters


The Green and White Army

The Green and White Army is the name given to the fans that follow the Northern Ireland national football team.

Since the defeat of England in 2005, there has been an increased demand for tickets exceeding supply.[27] Tongue-in-cheek songs such as "We're not Brazil, we're Northern Ireland" (sung to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic, an American Civil War song), "It's Just Like Watching Brazil" and "Stand up for the Ulstermen" are popular at home matches.

One of the first footballing celebrities was former Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer George Best. The 1968 European Footballer of the Year, Best won 37 caps and scored 9 goals for his country.[28]

Leading up to the Euro 2016, YouTuber Sean Kennedy released the song "Will Grigg's on Fire", a parody about Northern Irish national Will Grigg to the tune of "Freed From Desire" by Gala. The song became a popular chant and internet sensation. A studio version was released by London-based production duo Blonde, going on to reach number seven in the iTunes UK Top 100.[29]

Historic controversy over sectarianism

Former captain Neil Lennon retired from international football due to sectarian death threats

A small element of Northern Ireland's support was, in the past, regarded as sectarian.[30][31][32] Neil Lennon, a Roman Catholic Celtic player who had been subject to sectarian abuse from Northern Ireland fans while playing for Northern Ireland in Windsor Park, was issued a death threat by Loyalists and retired from international football in 2002 as a result.[33]

Steps taken to eradicate the sectarian element within the support have been successful.[34] Lennon has been quick to praise these initiatives.[35] He also praised the "Football For All" Outstanding Achievement Award Winner Stewart MacAfee[36] for the work he has done to create a more inclusive atmosphere at international games.

People like Stewart are the unsung heroes who have been brave enough to challenge sectarianism and who have actively created a more fun, safe and family-orientated atmosphere at international games. Fans like Stewart have made the atmosphere at Northern Ireland football games in recent years the envy of Fans across not only Europe but World football. From a personal point of view I would like to thank them for their efforts.

In 2006, Northern Ireland's supporters were awarded the Brussels International Supporters Award[37] for their charity work, general good humour and behaviour and efforts to stamp out sectarianism. Representatives of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs received the award from UEFA and EU representatives prior to the Northern Ireland–Spain game at Windsor Park in September 2006.

Northern Ireland Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín, the first senior Sinn Féin representative to attend an international at Windsor Park, commended "the very real efforts that have been made by the IFA to tackle sectarianism at their matches" after a match in August 2011.[38]

Players


Current squad

The following players were called up for friendly games against  Malta on 30 May 2021 and  Ukraine on 3 June 2021.[39]

Caps and goals updated as of 3 June 2021, after the match against  Ukraine.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Bailey Peacock-Farrell (1996-10-29) 29 October 1996 (age 24) 23 0 Burnley
1GK Conor Hazard (1998-03-05) 5 March 1998 (age 23) 2 0 Celtic
1GK Liam Hughes (2001-08-19) 19 August 2001 (age 19) 0 0 Liverpool

2DF Craig Cathcart (1989-02-06) 6 February 1989 (age 32) 61 2 Watford
2DF Stuart Dallas (1991-04-19) 19 April 1991 (age 30) 56 3 Leeds United
2DF Shane Ferguson (1991-07-12) 12 July 1991 (age 29) 49 1 Millwall
2DF Paddy McNair (1995-04-27) 27 April 1995 (age 26) 47 4 Middlesbrough
2DF Daniel Ballard (1999-09-22) 22 September 1999 (age 21) 8 0 Blackpool
2DF Ciaron Brown (1998-01-14) 14 January 1998 (age 23) 4 0 Cardiff City
2DF Sam McClelland (2002-01-04) 4 January 2002 (age 19) 1 0 Chelsea
2DF Conor Bradley (2003-07-09) 9 July 2003 (age 17) 1 0 Liverpool

3MF Niall McGinn (1987-07-20) 20 July 1987 (age 33) 66 6 Aberdeen
3MF George Saville (1993-06-01) 1 June 1993 (age 28) 31 0 Middlesbrough
3MF Gavin Whyte (1996-01-31) 31 January 1996 (age 25) 19 3 Cardiff City
3MF Jordan Thompson (1997-01-03) 3 January 1997 (age 24) 16 0 Stoke City
3MF Jordan Jones (1994-10-24) 24 October 1994 (age 26) 12 1 Rangers
3MF Ali McCann (1999-12-04) 4 December 1999 (age 21) 6 1 St Johnstone
3MF Ethan Galbraith (2001-05-11) 11 May 2001 (age 20) 2 0 Manchester United
3MF Alfie McCalmont (2000-03-25) 25 March 2000 (age 21) 2 0 Leeds United

4FW Kyle Lafferty (1987-09-16) 16 September 1987 (age 33) 83 20 Kilmarnock
4FW Josh Magennis (1990-05-15) 15 May 1990 (age 31) 61 8 Hull City
4FW Liam Boyce (1991-04-08) 8 April 1991 (age 30) 28 2 Heart of Midlothian
4FW Shayne Lavery (1998-12-08) 8 December 1998 (age 22) 7 0 Linfield
4FW Paul Smyth (1997-09-10) 10 September 1997 (age 23) 3 1 Queens Park Rangers
4FW Dion Charles (1995-10-07) 7 October 1995 (age 25) 3 0 Accrington Stanley

Recent call-ups

The following players have been called up to the Northern Ireland squad during the last 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Nathan Gartside (1998-03-08) 8 March 1998 (age 23) 0 0 Derry City v.  Bulgaria, 31 March 2021 WTD
GK Michael McGovern (1984-07-12) 12 July 1984 (age 36) 33 0 Norwich City v.  Romania, 18 November 2020
GK Trevor Carson (1988-03-05) 5 March 1988 (age 33) 6 0 Motherwell v.  Norway, 14 October 2020

DF Jonny Evans (1988-01-03) 3 January 1988 (age 33) 91 4 Leicester City v.  Bulgaria, 31 March 2021
DF Conor McLaughlin (1991-07-26) 26 July 1991 (age 29) 43 1 Sunderland v.  Bulgaria, 31 March 2021
DF Jamal Lewis (1998-01-25) 25 January 1998 (age 23) 20 0 Newcastle United v.  Bulgaria, 31 March 2021
DF Michael Smith (1988-09-04) 4 September 1988 (age 32) 17 1 Heart of Midlothian v.  Bulgaria, 31 March 2021
DF Tom Flanagan (1991-10-21) 21 October 1991 (age 29) 8 0 Sunderland v.  Romania, 18 November 2020
DF Ryan McLaughlin (1994-09-30) 30 September 1994 (age 26) 5 0 Rochdale v.  Romania, 18 November 2020

MF Steven Davis (captain) (1985-01-01) 1 January 1985 (age 36) 126 12 Rangers v.  Bulgaria, 31 March 2021
MF Corry Evans (1990-07-17) 17 July 1990 (age 30) 66 2 Blackburn Rovers v.  Bulgaria, 31 March 2021
MF Matty Kennedy (1994-11-01) 1 November 1994 (age 26) 3 0 Aberdeen v.  Bulgaria, 31 March 2021
MF Joel Cooper (1996-02-29) 29 February 1996 (age 25) 0 0 Oxford United v.  Norway, 14 October 2020

FW Conor Washington (1992-05-18) 18 May 1992 (age 29) 29 4 Charlton Athletic v.  Italy, 25 March 2021 INJ

INJ = Withdrew due to an injury.
PRE = Preliminary squad / standby.
RET = Retired from the national team.
SUS = Suspended from national team.
WTD = Withdrew due to other reasons.

Previous squads

FIFA World Cup squads

UEFA European Championship squads

Results and fixtures


2020

7 September 2020–21 UEFA Nations League B Northern Ireland  1–5  Norway Belfast, Northern Ireland
19:45 BST
Match 650
McNair  6' Report Elyounoussi  2'
Haaland  7', 58'
Sørloth  19', 47'
Stadium: Windsor Park
Attendance: 0
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
15 November 2020–21 UEFA Nations League B Austria  2–1  Northern Ireland Vienna, Austria
19:45 GMT
Match 655
Schaub  81'
Grbić  87'
Report Magennis  75' Stadium: Ernst-Happel-Stadion
Referee: Maurizio Mariani (Italy)

2021

28 March International Friendly Northern Ireland  1–2  United States Belfast, Northern Ireland
17:05 BST
Match 658
McGinn  88' Report Reyna  30'
Pulisic  59' (pen.)
Stadium: Windsor Park
Attendance: 0
Referee: Robert Jenkins (Wales)
31 March 2022 FIFA World Cup Group C Qualifier Northern Ireland  0–0  Bulgaria Belfast, Northern Ireland
19:45 BST
Match 659
Report Stadium: Windsor Park
Attendance: 0
Referee: Yigal Frid (Israel)
30 May International Friendly Malta  0–3  Northern Ireland Klagenfurt, Austria
17:00 BST
Match 660
Report Jones  2'
Whyte  53'
McCann  55'
Stadium: Wörthersee Stadion
Referee: Sebastian Gishamer (Austria)
3 June International Friendly Ukraine  1–0  Northern Ireland Dnipro, Ukraine
19:00 BST
Match 661
Zubkov  10' Report Stadium: Dnipro-Arena
Attendance: 15,000
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland)

FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying

On 7 December 2020, Northern Ireland were drawn to face the Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania and Switzerland in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group C. The matches are scheduled to be played between March 2021 and November 2021.[40]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Italy 3 3 0 0 6 0 +6 9 Qualification to 2022 FIFA World Cup 12 Nov 2–0 2 Sep 8 Sep
2   Switzerland 2 2 0 0 4 1 +3 6 Advance to second round 5 Sep 9 Oct 15 Nov 1–0
3  Northern Ireland 2 0 1 1 0 2 2 1 15 Nov 8 Sep 0–0 12 Nov
4  Bulgaria 3 0 1 2 1 5 4 1 0–2 1–3 12 Oct 5 Sep
5  Lithuania 2 0 0 2 0 3 3 0 0–2 12 Oct 2 Sep 9 Oct
Updated to match(es) played on 31 March 2021. Source: FIFA, UEFA
Rules for classification: Tiebreakers

Records


Most capped players

As of 3 June 2021 after the match against  Ukraine.
  Players still active are highlighted in green
Aaron Hughes has been the most capped outfield player, before being surpassed by Steven Davis
# Name Caps Goals First Cap Last Cap
1 Steven Davis 126 12 9 February 2005 vs. 31 March 2021 vs.
2 Pat Jennings 119 0 15 April 1964 vs. 12 June 1986 vs.
3 Aaron Hughes 112 1 25 March 1998 vs. 3 June 2018 vs.
4 David Healy 95 36 23 February 2000 vs. 26 March 2013 vs.
5 Mal Donaghy 91 0 16 May 1980 vs. 11 June 1994 vs.
Jonny Evans 91 4 6 September 2006 vs. 31 March 2021 vs.
7 Sammy McIlroy 88 5 16 February 1972 vs. 15 October 1986 vs.
Maik Taylor 88 0 27 March 1999 vs. 11 October 2011 vs.
9 Keith Gillespie 86 2 7 September 1995 vs. 19 November 2008 vs.
10 Kyle Lafferty 83 20 21 May 2006 vs. 3 June 2021 vs.

Top goalscorers

As of 3 June 2021 after the match against  Ukraine.
  Players still active are highlighted in green
# Name NI Career Goals Caps Goals per game First Goal Last Goal
1 David Healy (list) 2000–2013 36 95 0.38 23 February 2000 vs. 14 November 2012 vs.
2 Kyle Lafferty 2006–present 20 83 0.24 16 August 2006 vs. 11 November 2016 vs.
3 Billy Gillespie 1913–1932 13 25 0.52 15 February 1913 vs. 20 October 1926 vs.
Colin Clarke 1986–1993 13 38 0.34 23 April 1986 vs. 9 September 1992 vs.
5 Joe Bambrick 1928–1940 12 11 1.09 22 October 1928 vs. 16 March 1938 vs.
Jimmy Quinn 1984–1995 12 46 0.26 16 October 1984 vs. 11 October 1995 vs.
Iain Dowie 1990–1999 12 59 0.2 16 October 1991 vs. 18 November 1998 vs.
Gerry Armstrong 1977–1986 12 63 0.19 16 November 1977 vs. 14 November 1984 vs.
Steven Davis 2005– 12 126 0.1 8 October 2005 vs. 21 March 2019 vs.
10 Olphie Stanfield 1887–1897 11 30 0.37 12 March 1887 vs. 6 March 1897 vs.

FIFA Rankings


Last updated on 16 July 2020. [41]

FIFA World Rankings

  Worst Ranking    Best Ranking    Worst Mover    Best Mover  

Rank Year Games
Played
Won Drawn Lost Best Worst
Rank Move Rank Move
4520208035 36 0 (February)45 4 (November)
36201910613 28 5 (June)36 4 (October)
3520189225 24 2 (March)35 6 (October)
2420179513 20 9 (April)35 3 (October)
32201613535 25 4 (November)36 6 (October)
3020159441 29 8 (March)51 4 (April)
4820147313 43 28 (October)95 6 (August)
8920138125 86 23 (September)119 22 (April)
9620127043 86 17 (November)129 28 (September)
88201110118 38 5 (February)89 25 (April)
43201010134 39 14 (September)59 11 (March)
4020099333 27 15 (April)52 9 (November)
5220088224 32 2 (June)52 10 (December)
3220079423 27 14 (April)49 9 (September)
4820068413 45 21 (July)103 3 (November)
103200510226 101 15 (September)116 4 (August)
107200411362 107 9 (April)124 2 (July)
12220038026 106 1 (June)122 7 (October)
10320026033 89 1 (April)103 8 (September)
8820018215 88 10 (September)107 4 (June)
9320007313 84 5 (October)98 5 (May)
8419998125 67 19 (January)84 7 (October)
8619986312 86 7 (October)99 6 (February)
9319979135 63 5 (April)93 10 (December)
6419967133 48 11 (December)75 9 (October)
4519958323 45 10 (September)55 5 (February)
4519947304 33 7 (April)45 8 (June)
3919938413 39 3 (August)42 2 (October)

FIFA ranking history

The following is a chart of the yearly averages of Northern Ireland's FIFA ranking.

Managers


  Current manager highlighted in green

Last updated after match against  Ukraine on 3 June 2021.

Manager First Game Last Game Pld W D L GF GA GD Win % Draw % Loss %
Irish FA Selection Committee 18 February 1882 vs. 12 May 1951 vs. 1772927121200568-36816.39%15.25%68.36%
Peter Doherty 6 October 1951 vs. 9 May 1962 vs. 519142867119-5217.65%27.45%54.90%
Bertie Peacock 10 October 1962 vs. 12 April 1967 vs. 28114134654-839.29%14.29%46.42%
Billy Bingham 21 October 1967 vs. 22 May 1971 vs. 208392422+240.00%15.00%45.00%
Terry Neill 22 September 1971 vs. 30 October 1974 vs. 206681618-230.00%30.00%40.00%
Dave Clements 16 April 1975 vs. 14 May 1976 vs. 11326715-827.27%18.18%54.55%
Danny Blanchflower 13 October 1976 vs. 21 November 1979 vs. 2465131938-1925.00%20.83%54.17%
Billy Bingham 26 March 1980 vs. 17 November 1993 vs. 9832313591107-1632.65%31.64%35.71%
Bryan Hamilton 23 March 1994 vs. 11 October 1997 vs. 3188153441-725.81%25.81%48.38%
Lawrie McMenemy 25 March 1998 vs. 9 October 1999 vs. 14437925-1628.57%21.43%50.00%
Sammy McIlroy 23 February 2000 vs. 2 April 2003 vs. 2957171940-2117.24%24.14%58.62%
Lawrie Sanchez 18 February 2004 vs. 28 March 2007 vs. 321110113542-734.38%31.24%34.38%
Nigel Worthington 22 August 2007 vs. 11 October 2011 vs. 41910223555-2021.95%24.39%53.66%
Michael O'Neill 29 February 2012 vs. 19 November 2019 vs. 722618287583-836.11%25.00%38.89%
Ian Baraclough 4 September 2020 vs. - 131481019-97.69%30.77%61.54%
Total 661 168 152 341 687 1246 -559 25.41% 23.00% 51.59%

Statistics include official FIFA recognised matches only

Current coaching staff

Position Name
Manager Ian Baraclough
Assistant Manager Jimmy Nicholl
Coaching Assistant Damien Johnson
Coach/Analyst Austin MacPhee
Goalkeeping Coach Steve Harper
Head Physiotherapist Caroline Woods
Kit Manager Raymond Millar

Kit suppliers


Kit provider Period
Umbro
1975–1977
Adidas
1977–1990
Umbro
1990–1994
ASICS
1994–1998
Olympic Sportswear 1998–1999
Patrick
1999–2004
Umbro
2004–2012
Adidas
2012–present

Competitive record


For the all-time record of the national team against opposing nations, see the team's all-time record page

FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup finals record Qualification record Manager(s)
Year Round Pos Pld W D* L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
1930 Not a FIFA member Not a FIFA member None
1934
1938
1950 Did not qualify 3 0 1 2 4 17 Irish FA Committee
1954 3 1 0 2 4 7 Peter Doherty
1958 Quarter-finals 8th 5 2 1 2 6 10 Squad 4 2 1 1 6 3
1962 Did not qualify 4 1 0 3 7 8
1966 6 3 2 1 9 5 Bertie Peacock
1970 4 2 1 1 7 3 Billy Bingham
1974 6 1 3 2 5 6 Terry Neill
1978 6 2 1 3 7 6 Danny Blanchflower
1982 Second group stage 9th 5 1 3 1 5 7 Squad 8 3 3 2 6 3 Billy Bingham
1986 Group stage 21st 3 0 1 2 2 6 Squad 8 4 2 2 8 5
1990 Did not qualify 8 2 1 5 6 12
1994 12 5 3 4 14 13
1998 10 1 4 5 6 10 Bryan Hamilton
2002 10 3 2 5 11 12 Sammy McIlroy
2006 10 2 3 5 10 18 Lawrie Sanchez
2010 10 4 3 3 13 9 Nigel Worthington
2014 10 1 4 5 9 17 Michael O'Neill
2018 12 6 2 4 17 7
2022 To be determined 2 0 1 1 0 2 Ian Baraclough
2026
Total Quarter-finals 3/21 13 3 5 5 13 23 136 43 37 56 149 163
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

UEFA European Championship

UEFA European Championship record Qualification record Manager(s)
Year Round Pos Pld W D* L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
1960 Did not enter Did not enter None
1964 Did not qualify 4 2 1 1 5 2 Bertie Peacock
1968 6 1 1 4 2 8 Bertie Peacock, Billy Bingham[42]
1972 6 2 2 2 10 6 Billy Bingham, Terry Neill[43]
1976 6 3 0 3 8 5 Terry Neill, Dave Clements[44]
1980 8 4 1 3 8 14 Danny Blanchflower
1984 8 5 1 2 8 5 Billy Bingham
1988 6 1 1 4 2 10
1992 8 2 3 3 11 11
1996 10 5 2 3 20 15 Bryan Hamilton
2000 8 1 2 5 4 19 Lawrie McMenemy
2004 8 0 3 5 0 8 Sammy McIlroy
2008 12 6 2 4 17 14 Lawrie Sanchez, Nigel Worthington[45]
2012 10 2 3 5 9 13 Nigel Worthington
2016 Round of 16 16th 4 1 0 3 2 3 Squad 10 6 3 1 16 8 Michael O'Neill
2020 Did not qualify 10 4 2 4 11 16 Michael O'Neill, Ian Baraclough[46]
2024 To be determined
Total Round of 16 1/16 4 1 0 3 2 3 120 44 27 49 131 154
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalties.

UEFA Nations League

UEFA Nations League record Manager(s)
Year Division Group Pld W D L GF GA P/R RK
2018–19 B 3 40042724th Michael O'Neill
2020–21 B 1 602441132nd Ian Baraclough
2022–23 C To Be Determined
Total 10 0 2 8 6 18 24th

Summary of results

All competitive matches[47]
P W D L GF GA GD
5361371182815751039−464
All matches including friendlies[48][49]
P W D L GF GA GD
6611681523416871246−559

Results updated after match against  Ukraine on 3 June 2021.

Honours


Media coverage


Sky Sports currently have the rights to show all of Northern Ireland's competitive international fixtures.

Highlights of qualifiers are shown on ITV with rights to World Cup Finals and European Championships held jointly by BBC and ITV - both channels shared coverage of Northern Ireland's games at Euro 2016.

Dating from the 1960s, Northern Ireland's games were shown live on BBC Northern Ireland, with highlights on network BBC via Sportsnight until the rights to home games were sold to Sky in 2007.[50] In May 2013, Sky acquired the rights to all Northern Ireland qualifying games for UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[51] From 2008–2013, BBC Northern Ireland held the rights to highlights of all of Northern Ireland's home international qualifiers. But in May 2013, ITV secured a deal to show highlights of the European Qualifiers for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, including Northern Ireland games, between 2014 and 2017.

In 2015, BBC Northern Ireland acquired the live rights to show Northern Ireland's friendlies in the run-up to UEFA Euro 2016, but the next two subsequent home friendlies against Croatia and New Zealand were shown on Premier Sports/eirSport until the contract ended before the 2018 World Cup.

See also


Notes


    1. The last match played as Ireland was 1978 versus Scotland,[3] however, apart from this match, all British Championship matches had been played as "Northern Ireland" since the 1973–74 tournament.[4] In the 1972–73 tournament, the first two matches were played as "Ireland" and the third as "Northern Ireland". In the 1971–72 tournament, the first was played as "Ireland" and the second and third as "Northern Ireland". 1970–71 was the last tournament in which all matches were played under the name "Ireland".[5]

    References


    1. "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 27 May 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
    2. Matthew Taylor (2008). The Association Game: A History of British Football. Harlow:Pearson Education Ltd.
    3. "NIFG: Northern Ireland Programmes 1975–1978". Retrieved 13 June 2016.
    4. "NIFG: Northern Ireland Programmes 1972–1975". Retrieved 13 June 2016.
    5. "NIFG: Northern Ireland Programmes 1968–1972". Retrieved 13 June 2016.
    6. Whiteside, Norman (2007). Determined. Headline Publishing Group. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7553-1598-7.
    7. Whiteside, Norman (2007). Determined. Headline Publishing Group. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-7553-1598-7.
    8. "Northern Ireland 3 Greece 1". BBC Sport. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015. At the tournament, the Northern Ireland fans made the famous chant ‘Will Grigg’s on fire’ famous
    9. Jackson, Lyle (16 June 2016). "Ukraine 0, Northern Ireland 2". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
    10. "IFA wants out of Windsor contract". BBC News. 17 July 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
    11. "Lord's Hansard on the question of building an NI national stadium".
    12. "Tide Turns Against The Maze".
    13. Report slams Windsor Park safety BBC News
    14. IFA wants out of Windsor contract BBC News
    15. South Stand future under threat BBC News
    16. Plans for £128m Belfast stadium unveiled – The Independent, 25/03/09
    17. IFA 'backs Windsor as NI stadium' – BBC News, 07/09/09
    18. Linfield FC has £20m stadium plan – BBC News, 12/06/09
    19. "Stadiums fit for our heroes on way at last Belfast Telegraph". Belfast Telegraph. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
    20. "WINDSOR PARK REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT". Irish Football Association. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
    21. "GREEN LIGHT FOR STADIUM REDEVELOPMENT". Irish Football Association. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
    22. "Windsor Park funding faces legal challenge from Crusaders". BBC Sport. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
    23. "Crusaders win right to oppose government funding for Windsor". BBC Sport. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
    24. "Crusaders support settlement on Windsor Park upgrade". BBC Sport. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
    25. "Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin 'committed' to Windsor upgrade". BBC Sport. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
    26. "WORK BEGINS AT WINDSOR PARK". Irish Football Association. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
    27. "BBC news story on NI ticket sales". BBC News. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
    28. "Football: George Best: Football's first icon". The Guardian. London. 27 November 2005.
    29. "Will Grigg's on fire: Parody song reaches number seven in ITunes UK Top 100". BBC. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
    30. Brian McNally (5 March 2010). "Why Northern Ireland continue to pay the price for abuse dished out to Neil Lennon". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
    31. "Anger at sectarian songs after NI game". UTV News. UTV. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
    32. Horne, John. "Racism, sectarianism and football in Scotlandaccessdate=18 October 2012" (PDF).
    33. Tim Rich (23 August 2002). "Death threat forces Lennon to place family feelings first". The Independent. London. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
    34. "BBC News Star helps in graffiti removal". 30 October 2003. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
    35. "Lennon hails anti-sectarian drive". BBC News. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
    36. "PRAISE FOR IFA'S FOOTBALL FOR ALL AWARDS NIGHT".
    37. "Northern Ireland Fans Are Officially The Best In Europe". Irishfa.com. 24 August 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
    38. "Caral Ni Chuilin attends NI game at Windsor Park". BBC News. 11 August 2011.
    39. "Baraclough chooses mix of youth and experience for end of season double header". 26 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
    40. "2022 World Cup qualifying draw". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
    41. "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking - Associations - Northern Ireland - Men's - FIFA.com". Retrieved 28 August 2020.
    42. Bertie Peacock managed for the first three qualifying matches. Billy Bingham managed the remainder of the qualification campaign.
    43. Billy Bingham managed for the first three qualifying matches. Terry Neill managed the remainder of the qualification campaign.
    44. Terry Neill managed for the first two qualifying matches. Dave Clements managed the remainder of the qualification campaign.
    45. Lawrie Sanchez managed for the first six qualifying matches. Nigel Worthington managed the remainder of the qualification campaign.
    46. Michael O'Neill managed the team for the eight qualifying group stage matches. Ian Baraclough managed the team in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs.
    47. "Historical Results – Fixtures And Results – International – The Irish Football Association". Irishfa.com. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
    48. Irish Football Association (2009). Official Souvenir Programme: Northern Ireland vs Serbia. Belfast:Irish Football Association
    49. Jackson, Lyle (14 November 2009). "BBC:Northern Ireland 0–1 Serbia". BBC News. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
    50. "Sky TV deal to net IFA over £10m". BBC Sport. BBC. 27 April 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
    51. Beacom, Steven (15 May 2013). "Northern Ireland fans can reach for the Sky again with new TV deal". Belfast Telegraph. INM. Retrieved 5 October 2013.