The last two decades really haven’t been pretty for the Three Lions, but FFT’s Huw Davies has had a crack at rating anyway – from fist-eatingly awful to infrequently enjoyable…
37. England 0-0 Algeria (World Cup 2010, Group C)
A dire draw against a team that lost its two other games 1-0 was enlivened only by Wayne Rooney ranting about England fans. Oh, and Emile Heskey turning a stepover into a stumble-over before slicing the ball out of play.
36. England 2-0 Trinidad and Tobago (World Cup 2006, Group B)
If The Guardian were harsh in calling this performance “abysmal” and England “an utter shambles”, it wasn’t by much. Steven Gerrard’s fine stoppage-time strike put several coats of gloss on it: England needed a goal-line clearance and a Peter Crouch header that should have been disallowed (the hitherto wasteful beanpole striker pulled Brent Sancho back by his dreadlocks) to beat a team with Dwight Yorke in defensive midfield and an 85-year-old Shaka Hislop in goal.
35. England 1-4 Germany (World Cup 2010, last 16)
Don’t be fooled into thinking things would have been different if Frank Lampard’s strike had been allowed. It may have made the score 2-2 immediately after Matthew Upson (!) had scored, but that one-minute period aside, England were diabolical: they should by rights have already been 5-0 down. It was a horror show.
34. England 2-3 Romania (Euro 2000, Group A)
With his team leading having been second-best, the ever-noble Kevin Keegan instructed his players at half-time to give Romania two goals. Last-minute deputy Nigel Martyn led the defensive omnishambles, and then in the 88th minute Phil Neville decided he didn’t fancy another week away and hacked down Viorel Moldovan in the box to send England home.
33. England 0-0 Costa Rica (World Cup 2014, Group D)
The most exciting thing to happen in these two hours was Luis Suarez biting Giorgio Chiellini 1,500 miles away.
32. England 1-0 Paraguay (World Cup 2006, Group B)
With hype over the Golden Generation at its peak and an own goal giving them a lead three minutes into the tournament, it was good of England to dampen expectations with a thoroughly dour performance from then on.
31. England 1-2 Romania (World Cup 98, Group G)
Despite substitute Michael Owen cancelling out Viorel Moldovan’s goal (yep, him again) and then hitting the post, England lost in rather careless fashion. Dan Petrescu scored a late, late goal that Graeme Le Saux watched through his fingers even while trying to tackle him.
30. England 1-0 Slovenia (World Cup 2010, Group C)
Jermain Defoe, replacing Heskey in the starting XI, scored with his knee but England missed a hatful to ensure a nervy finish and a date with Germany.
29. England 1-1 Sweden (World Cup 2002, Group F)
England, defensive and inexperienced (seven of the 13 players used here were aged 20-23), started their Asian adventure badly. A Danny Mills balls-up let Sweden cancel out Sol Campbell’s opener and almost snatch a win.
28. England 0-0 Nigeria (World Cup 2002, Group F)
Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men needed a draw to progress, and the Swede was content to play for it. Uninspired and uninspiring, England gave Nigeria their only point and qualified in second, meaning they’d meet eventual winners Brazil in the last eight instead of Turkey.
27. England 1-2 Brazil (World Cup 2002, quarter-final)
England had a fine first 45, leading 1-0 thanks to Owen taking advantage of a Lucio howler. However, moments before half-time they let Ronaldinho run amok and set up Rivaldo, then moments after it, Ronaldinho coaxed David Seaman into retirement. Somehow England never even looked like equalising, despite facing 10 men for 35 minutes.
26. England 1-1 USA (World Cup 2010, Group C)
“This might be fun!” exclaimed Clive Tyldesley when Gerrard scored in the fourth minute. One Rob Green gaffe later, he learned it wasn’t.
25. England 1-0 Ecuador (World Cup 2006, last 16)
Move along, nothing to see here.
24. England 0-0 [2-4pen] Italy (Euro 2012, quarter-final)
Fatigue was a major factor; even so, it spoke volumes that England’s most common pass combination was from Joe Hart to Andy Carroll, who only came on after an hour.
Moving on: things can literally only get better