England's 1000th international: We look at 10 games that sum up the best and worst of England football over the years

To mark England's 1000th international we run down the top 10 iconic moments of the Three Lions
To mark England's 1000th international we run down the top 10 iconic moments of the Three Lions

As England play their 1000th game we look at the most iconic moments, good and bad, over the years for the Three Lions.

England will celebrate their 1000th men's senior international game on Thursday when they play their Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley.

Over the last 999 games there have been some huge highs - one in particular - and some almighty lows, and sometimes you get both emotions in the one game, usually ending in a penalty shootout defeat.

It's hard trying to narrow it down, but here are ten games, and iconic moments within them, that sum up England over the years.


Kings of the world!

England 4-2 West Germany - World Cup final 1966

England celebrate winning the World Cup in 1966
England celebrate winning the World Cup in 1966

Where else can we start? It's often said that this victory in 1966 weighs too heavy on the current crop, that England fans should stop harping on about that famous day that sadly fewer and fewer fans can remember. However, when you've only won the World Cup once, that surely has to be the best moment of your country's football career. It's just a good job they didn't have VAR!

It's now over 53 years since Sir Geoff Hurst's celebrated hat-trick goal in extra-time spawned the immortal "they think it's all over" words of commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme and made household names of all Sir Alf Ramsey's starting line-up. The match that marked the Three Lions' finest hour had it all, including Wolfgang Weber's late equaliser and Hurst's famous second, when the ball was ruled to have crossed the goal-line after rebounding off the underside of the crossbar.


Best away day ever?

Germany 1-5 England - 2001 World Cup qualifier

This may well be England's best ever footballing performance, coming away from home, against Germany of all teams, and producing a result that will live on long in the memory.

Still smarting from defeats at Italia 90 and Euro 96 on penalties, the Three Lions went some way to avenging those painful losses when humbling their arch rivals in Munich.

Michael Owen led the rout with a hat-trick after Carsten Jancker had given Germany an early lead, Steven Gerrard lashed home a trademark goal from outside the box and, as the song rather cruelly goes, "even Heskey scored" to seal it.

With David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gerrard orchestrating things in midfield, it was perhaps the one time the 'Golden Generation' under Sven Goran Eriksson really clicked - a tantalising glimpse of what this talented group could do, but a performance they were sadly unable to reproduce.


Football's coming home... nearly!

England 1-1 Germany - Euro 96 semi-final

Gareth Southgate missed the crucial spot kick
Gareth Southgate missed the crucial spot kick in Euro 96 semi-final

This game was the culmination of a glorious summer as football really did come home, even if the trophy eventually went off to Germany! Terry Venables revolutionised England with an exciting selection and line-up, and the tournament contained some of England's most memorable games.

We had 'that' Gazza goal and 'that' Gazza celebration against Scotland, the demolition job on the Dutch and England even managed to win a penalty shootout! No wonder the fans who packed into Wembley for the semi-final were convinced all those years of hurt were finally over.

How wrong they were though, as the footballing gods again decided England were doomed to glorious failure in another heartbreaking defeat on penalties.

Stefan Kuntz equalised for Germany after Alan Shearer's header had given Venables' side a flying start and a second goal somehow evaded them.

Darren Anderton's shot hit a post and Paul Gascoigne was millimetres away from converting Shearer's cross before Southgate's penalty in the shootout, with the scores level at 5-5, was saved, leaving Andreas Moller to slam home the winner.


The first penalty heartbreak

England 1-1 West Germany - Italia 90 semi-final

The seeds of being unable to beat the Germans on penalties were planted in Italy, when Sir Bobby Robson went mightily close to leading England to a second World Cup final before disaster struck.

Gary Lineker's late equaliser took it to extra-time after Andreas Brehme's deflected shot had given the Germans the lead.

Another iconic Paul Gascoigne moment came as his tears flowed following his yellow card, which would have ruled him out of the final, but the tears were flowing around the country soon after when the game went to penalties.

Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle both missed their penalties in the shootout as England came up agonisingly short.


Save of the century

England 0-1 Brazil - World Cup group stage 1970

In the stifling heat of Guadalajara, world champions England took on champions-elect Brazil in a hugely-anticipated game that signalled the changing of the guard.

Jairzinho struck the decisive second-half goal, but the Three Lions, brilliantly cajoled by the imperious Bobby Moore, pushed arguably one of the greatest-ever sides close.

Pele, Rivelinho, Tostao, Carlos Alberto and Paulo Cesar were all in their pomp, and Ramsey's side won plenty of admirers in defeat. The game also saw the 'save of the century' as Gordon Banks somehow kept out Pele's towering header.


Beckham sees red and pens strike again

Argentina 2 England 2 - France 98 last-16

In what was England's 750th international, it was perhaps fitting that they celebrated the landmark with a World Cup exit in true Three Lions fashion - overcoming a controversial David Beckham red card to take Argentina to penalties only to lose out...again!

Michael Owen announced himself on the scene with a solo wonder-goal for Glenn Hoddle's talented England side in their last 16 clash, before Beckham saw red in another hugely iconic moment for the country just two minutes after half-time.

England battled manfully and even managed to throw in another slice of heartache as Sol Campbell's goal was ruled out for a foul against Alan Shearer, before the inevitable happened and they lost on penalties, with Paul Ince and David Batty the unlucky duo this time around.


'Do I not like that'

Netherlands 2-0 England - 1993 World Cup qualifier

Graham Taylor was brave enough to allow a documentary camera crew to follow England's attempt to qualify for World Cup 94 in the USA - the title of the documentary, 'An Impossible Job', just about sums it up.

The turnover in players from the Italia 90 veterans saw a huge downturn in quality before the ranks of Euro 96 rose up, and Taylor was always going to struggle in such a talent vacuum.

England's failure to qualify became the most high-profile to date due to the TV exposure, and the amazing access highlighted just what Taylor had to go through during their controversial loss to the Netherlands in Rotterdam, where Ronald Koeman should have been sent off before scoring a crucial free-kick.

Legendary TV commentator Brian Moore's line of "he's going to flick one" was beaten later by Taylor's outburst down on the touchline when berating the linesman and telling him the referee had cost him his job. He was right.


Wally with a brolly

England 2-3 Croatia - Euro 2008 qualifier

Steve McClaren saw his England failto qualify for Euro 2008
Steve McClaren saw his England side fail to qualify for Euro 2008

Steve McClaren was probably not given a fair go from the start among some sections of both fans and media, but a record of nine wins in 18 games doesn't really warrant too much praise.

The ridicule, however, centred around what is now among the most famous pictures of an England manager - for all the wrong reasons.

England headed into their final game needing to avoid defeat to Croatia at Wembley to stumble through to Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. However, it all went pear-shaped for the former Middlesbrough boss as he watched his side slip to an early 2-0 deficit.

They fought back to level at 2-2 thanks to a Frank Lampard penalty and Peter Crouch, only for Mladen Petric to fire home from 25 yards to dampen McClaren's night even further.

As a helpless McClaren stood sodden on the touchline, the famous 'Wally with a brolly' headline was born. He'll forever be remembered by those four words.


'Clown' keeper has the last laugh

England 1-1 Poland - 1974 World Cup qualifier

England 1-1 Poland 1973: Infamous World Cup Qualifier remembered by Mick Channon & Peter Shilton

Branded "a clown" by Brian Clough on TV, Poland keeper Jan Tomaszewski was the star as the visitors silenced Wembley when holding England to a draw when the Three Lions needed a win to progress to the 1974 World Cup finals from their three-team qualification group.

Sir Alf Ramsey was still in charge of the team that'd won the World Cup seven years earlier, and they dominated the game, hitting 36 shots, earning 26 corners, having four efforts cleared off the line and hitting the woodwork twice. There was also an unconventional and heroic effort from Tomaszewski - making saves with every part of his anatomy.

Poland even had the audacity to take the lead, with England only finding the net from the penalty spot. It was a sad way to fail to qualify and also signalled that start of some lean years for the national team, after a goalkeeping performance that will never be forgotten.


Goldenballs is born

England 2-2 Greece - 2001 World Cup qualifier

An iconic moment from an icon of English football as David Beckham became Mr Goldenballs himself with a late moment of magic that fired England to the 2002 World Cup when they looked like once again blowing it.

The context is important here - Kevin Keegan quit after an awful Euro 2000 followed by defeat at Wembley against Germany in World Cup qualifying. Sven Goran Eriksson had dragged England up off their knees with that 5-1 win in Munich - now was not the time to stop that momentum.

Just a draw was needed against Greece at Old Trafford to qualify for Japan and Korea, with a testing play-off against the Ukraine lying in wait if they lost, which would have been a huge setback and would've seen the critics sharpening their knives again for the national team.

Up stepped Beckham, 93 minutes on the clock, on his home ground, with a trademark 30-yard stunner of a free-kick that shook the foundations of Old Trafford as the crowd, the players, and the country went wild. The villain of France 98 had completed his turnaround into national hero.

Check out our preview & best bets for England v Montenegro
Check out our preview & best bets for England v Montenegro

Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet @SportingLifeFC

Related football links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read Football

The Manchester derby is one of Saturday's games1

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's Premier League games with Tom Carnduff providing his best bets and score predictions for each clash.

Football gossip and transfer rumours from the back pages2

Paper Talk: £150m Chelsea spree

Frank Lampard is plotting a £150m January spending spree with Leicester's Ben Chilwell a target according to The Sun.

The latest Sporting Life football Accumulator3

Sporting Life Accumulator

We're back to a full fixture list this weekend meaning the latest Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams from across the divisions.

The Sporting Life team provide their free tips for Saturday's action across a range of sports4

Saturday's Bets of the Day

Our writers combine to pick out Saturday's best betting opportunities, with racing selections from Sandown to Wolverhampton and our take on the Manchester derby.

Follow our live blog of Everton at home to Chelsea in the Premier League5

Live blog: Everton v Chelsea

Follow our live Premier League blog as Duncan Ferguson takes charge of Everton against Frank Lampard's Chelsea.

Most Read Football

The Manchester derby is one of Saturday's games1

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's Premier League games with Tom Carnduff providing his best bets and score predictions for each clash.

Football gossip and transfer rumours from the back pages2

Paper Talk: £150m Chelsea spree

Frank Lampard is plotting a £150m January spending spree with Leicester's Ben Chilwell a target according to The Sun.

The latest Sporting Life football Accumulator3

Sporting Life Accumulator

We're back to a full fixture list this weekend meaning the latest Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams from across the divisions.

The Sporting Life team provide their free tips for Saturday's action across a range of sports4

Saturday's Bets of the Day

Our writers combine to pick out Saturday's best betting opportunities, with racing selections from Sandown to Wolverhampton and our take on the Manchester derby.

Follow our live blog of Everton at home to Chelsea in the Premier League5

Live blog: Everton v Chelsea

Follow our live Premier League blog as Duncan Ferguson takes charge of Everton against Frank Lampard's Chelsea.

Football Tips

The latest Sporting Life football Accumulator

Sporting Life Accumulator

We're back to a full fixture list this weekend meaning the latest Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams from across the divisions.

The Manchester derby is one of Saturday's games

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's Premier League games with Tom Carnduff providing his best bets and score predictions for each clash.

Our best bets in the Sky Bet EFL

Sky Bet EFL: Weekend preview

We're back to a full round of fixtures following the FA Cup weekend. Tom Carnduff picks out his best bets in the Sky Bet EFL.