How England fans can claim we should have won almost every tournament since 1966

52 Years of hurt by the time the 2018 World Cup comes round. England fans have been depressed for generations now and for good reason. We have not won a knockout game at a tournament for 11 years, we lost to Iceland a year ago this week and our golden generation has just gone by without winning a carrot. But as with everything else, us Englishmen can make an excuse as to why this is happening. When you really look into it, it could be argued that we should have won almost every World Cup and a few European Championships since 1966 here are the reasons why.

1970: Sabotage?


England went into the 1970 with arguably a better side than the one that won the competition 4 years prior. In the same tournament that Gordon Banks produced the “save of the century.” he was stricken with food poisoning just days before our Quarter Final with Germany. His replacement was Peter “The Cat” Bonetti. It’s fair to say that Bonetti had the worst game of his career with England throwing away a 2-0 lead against Germany to lose 3-2 due to some very soft goals. With Gordon Banks between the sticks, this would never have happened and England would have won the World Cup for the 2nd time.

1974 & 1978 Did not qualify

Can’t really judge us on a tournament we didn’t play in. Fair enough West Germany and Argentina can keep these trophies

1982: Stupid Format

spain 82

The 1982 World Cup contained 2 group stages, one group of 4, where the top 2 teams progressed much like modern World Cups, this was then followed by a 2nd group stage containing 3 teams where the top team progresses. England topped their first group with 3 wins and 6 points. Bizarrely a win was only worth 2 points at this tournament. Then in the second group, England were put with hosts Spain and eventual runners-up Germany. In both our group games we drew 0-0 and were out. England were eliminated from the 1982 World Cup conceding only 1 goal and not losing a single game. Obviously, if we were using a proper format in 1982 we would have won the World Cup. We never even lost a game to get eliminated.

1986: You know the story


This World Cup takes the cake. If there was ever a time to complain as an England fan it is in 1986. Diego Maradona punched the ball into the net and the referee allowed it to stand. He then went on to score one of the best goals ever for Argentinas winner. Nevertheless, he should have been sent off prior to the winner giving England a spot in the Semi-Finals against Belgium which we would have won with ease. Leading to a final against West Germany which could have been another England win giving us another World Cup triumph. With Gary Lineker in the form of his life picking up the Golden Boot award I find it hard to believe that there was a team on the planet that could have beaten us fairly.

1990: The first of many


The England national team is just terrible at penalties and this great tradition started in 1990. Getting beat by West Germany in our first ever penalty shootout and being eliminated from Italia 90 in the semi-finals is just bad luck. On another day we would have gone through to the final and walked past Argentina as they got 2 men sent off that day.

Euro 1992: Denmark didn’t even qualify!


Denmark won Euro 92 beating Germany 2-0 in the final. But the thing is they didn’t even qualify for the tournament, to begin with. They were invited because Yugoslavia broke up before the tournament began so they had to bring in a team to make up the numbers. Denmark were subsequently drawn into England’s group and drew 0-0 with us costing us the points that would have allowed us to qualify from the group. If you swap Denmark for Yugoslavia we qualify from the group in place of them and go on to win the tournament in similar fashion

1994 Didn’t qualify

Once again fair enough. Brazil can keep this one

Euro 96: Gazza’s miss and penalties again


On any other day, Paul Gascoigne puts us 2-1 up against Germany and we go into the Semi-Finals of the European Championships at Wembley and bring football home. But it wasn’t to be. Gazza mistimed the run and his leg was an inch too short to poke the ball home. Instead, we had to suffer through another penalty shootout loss which is again just bad luck.

1998: Two farces and the same storyDavid Beckham- Through the years

Three things can be argued as to why England should have beaten Argentina in the 1998 World Cup 2nd round. David Beckhams sending off for “kicking out” at Diego Simeone was ridiculous and we would’ve won the game with Becks on the pitch. Sol Campbell scored a completely legitimate winner late in the game that would’ve seen England win. And once again England were knocked out just due to bad luck because of penalties. If any of these decisions go in the other direction we may very well have won that World Cup.

World Cup 2002: Jump David!


In hindsight the only thing that stopped England winning the 2002 World Cup is David Seamans inability to jump. Our first World Cup with our golden generation was ruined when Ronaldinho scored one of the most audacious free kicks I have ever seen. But this goal is easily avoided if David Seaman was to just jump and tip it over the bar. It isn’t a hard shot to stop at all and it is a mistake that lives long in the memories of England fans

Euro 2004 and 2006: More of the same


To be eliminated in the Quarter finals twice on penalties in 2 years is bad enough but the fact that these two tournaments mirror the 1998 second round so much is uncanny. Firstly in 2004 Sol Campbell scored what would have been the winner again. Only for it to be disallowed again. In 2006 Wayne Rooney was sent off in similar fashion to David Beckham 8 years prior. With Cristiano Ronaldo playing the villain this time helping get Rooney sent off with his infamous wink.

ronaldo wink

World Cup 2010: It crossed the line.



This one still infuriates me to this very day. While I am writing this we are exactly 7 years on from this. I still am not over it. They say goals change games and never would this have been more prominent than if Lampard’s goal was given this day. Upson’s goal was exactly what England needed and only a minute later England had gotten another. Or so it seemed. The goal wasn’t given despite it being clearly over the line. For Germany to throw away a two goal lead in two minutes would have demoralised the Germans and going into half time it would have been a completely different game. Because the goal wasn’t given Englands heads dropped and they went on to lose 4-1 but I am certain that if the referee had made the right call that day England would have won that game and maybe even the whole tournament.

Euro 2012: Penalties again

We should really practice penalties, shouldn’t we?

World Cup 2014 & Euro 2016: No excuses

These are the first two tournaments in my lifetime that I can look back on and say “We didn’t go further because we were bad.” losing to Iceland is the most embarrassed I have ever been and finishing bottom of the group in Brazil isn’t far behind.



Author: Charles Jones

Journalist. Fulham supporter. Leeds Trinity University student.

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