Northern Ireland national football team

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Northern Ireland
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Green and White Army, Norn Iron
Association Irish Football Association
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach Michael O'Neill
Captain Steven Davis
Most caps Pat Jennings (119)
Top scorer David Healy (36)
Home stadium Windsor Park
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 26 Steady (5 May 2016)
Highest 26 (April–May 2016)
Lowest 129 (September 2012)
First international
 Ireland 0–13 England 
(Belfast; 18 February 1882)
As Northern Ireland[citation needed]:
 Northern Ireland 1–3 Scotland 
(Belfast; 3 October 1953)
World Cup
Appearances 3 (First in 1958)
Best result Quarter finals, 1958, 1982
European Championship
Appearances 1 (First in 2016)
Best result TBD

Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1921 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.[1][n 1] The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) organises the separate Republic of Ireland national football team.

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 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. UEFA Euro 2016 will be their first appearance at the continental tournament.


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On 18 February 1882, fifteen 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 they 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 game 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. However, on 8 March 1950, in a 0–0 draw with Wales at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham in a 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 had 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 Ballon d'Or 1968, 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 & 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, to have scored at a World Cup finals, 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 most of the 1960s and into the 1970s, Northern Ireland failed to qualify for any major tournaments during this time.

Northern Ireland also qualified for the 1982 World Cup. Their opening game was against Yugoslavia at the La Romareda 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.[5] 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.[6] However, a mistake from goalkeeper Luis Arconada 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.

Recent history

File:NI murals NI football.jpg
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 sixteen 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 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 UEFA Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Michael O'Neill became manager in February 2012 after Nigel Worthington had resigned in October 2011 after a poor Euro 2012 qualification campaign.

Northern Ireland qualified for their first ever European Championship, Euro 2016 in France after beating Greece 3–1 at Windsor Park on 8 October 2015.[7]


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Windsor Park – 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 F.C., which they have use of on a 108-year lease, giving the owners 15% of revenue, including gate receipts and TV rights.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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, Northern Ireland may 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. However, Ulster GAA, 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.[14]

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. However, in September 2009, they issued an announcement in favour of the redevelopment of Windsor Park.[15] Although there were no specifics to this, Linfield had previously released a study with two proposals, of which the major one would be a £20m rebuilding of the stadium, raising capacity to 20,000.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

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".[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

Controversy and sectarianism

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

An element of Northern Ireland's support was once perceived by some to be sectarian.[25][26][27] Neil Lennon, a Roman Catholic Celtic player who had been subject to sectarian abuse from some supporters while playing for Northern Ireland in Windsor Park, was issued with a death-threat by Loyalists and retired from international football in 2002 as a result.[28]

Steps taken to eradicate the sectarian element within the support have been successful.[29] Lennon has been quick to praise these initiatives. The IFA have made huge strides."[30] He also praised the "Football For All" Outstanding Achievement Award Winner Stewart MacAfee,[31] for the work they have carried out to create a more inclusive atmosphere at international games.

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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[32] 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 versus Spain game at Windsor Park in September 2006.

Steps by the IFA to promote Football For All continue. At a friendly match in Dublin in 2011 against Scotland, the IFA carried out an inquiry following an incident in which a minority number of drunken fans sang sectarian songs.[33][34] One fan who was identified in the inquiry was said to be in line for a lifetime ban from receiving tickets to any future Northern Ireland home or away games.[35]

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.[36]

Popular culture

George Best won 37 caps and scored 9 goals for Northern Ireland

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 outstripping supply.[37] 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.[38]

Competitive record

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FIFA World Cup

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     Champions       Runners-up       Third Place       Fourth Place  

FIFA World Cup Record Qualification Record
Year Round Position P W D* L GF GA P W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Part of  Ireland
Italy 1934
France 1938
Brazil 1950
Switzerland 1954 Did Not Qualify 3 1 0 2 4 7
Sweden 1958 Quarter-Finals 8th 5 2 1 2 6 10 4 2 1 1 6 3
Chile 1962 Did Not Qualify 4 1 0 3 7 8
England 1966 6 3 2 1 9 5
Mexico 1970 4 2 1 1 7 3
Germany 1974 6 0 0 6 0 6
Argentina 1978 6 2 1 3 7 6
Spain 1982 Round 2 9th 5 1 3 1 5 7 8 3 3 2 6 3
Mexico 1986 Group Stage 21st 3 0 1 2 2 6 8 4 2 2 8 5
Italy 1990 Did Not Qualify 8 2 1 5 6 12
United States 1994 12 5 3 4 14 13
France 1998 10 1 4 5 6 10
South Korea Japan 2002 10 3 2 5 11 12
Germany 2006 10 2 3 5 10 18
South Africa 2010 10 4 3 3 13 9
Brazil 2014 10 1 4 5 9 17
Russia 2018 To Be Determined To Be Determined
Qatar 2022
Total Quarter-Finals 3/20 13 3 5 5 13 23 122 37 34 51 129 143

UEFA European Championship

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UEFA European Football Championship Record Qualification Record
Year Round Position Pld W D * L GF GA Pld W D L GF GA
France 1960 Did Not Enter Did Not Enter
23x15px 1964 Did Not Qualify 4 2 1 1 5 2
Italy 1968 6 1 1 4 2 8
Belgium 1972 6 2 2 2 10 6
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1976 6 3 0 3 8 5
Italy 1980 8 4 1 3 8 14
France 1984 8 5 1 2 8 5
West Germany 1988 6 1 1 4 2 10
Sweden 1992 8 2 3 3 11 11
England 1996 10 5 2 3 20 15
Belgium Netherlands 2000 8 1 2 5 4 19
Portugal 2004 8 0 3 5 0 8
Austria Switzerland 2008 12 6 2 4 17 14
Poland Ukraine 2012 10 2 3 5 9 13
France 2016 Qualified 10 6 3 1 16 8
Total 0/14 0 0 0 0 0 0 110 40 25 45 120 138

Summary of results

All competitive matches[39]
P W D L F A Gd
486 123 107 256 528 977 −449
All matches including friendlies[40][41]
P W D L F A Gd
587 147 137 303 622 1149 −526

Data correct as of Northern Ireland v Latvia, 13 November 2015

The team have also won the Home Championship 8 times, including 5 shared.

Fixtures and results

The following are Northern Ireland's results in recent matches and upcoming fixtures.

Recent matches

      Win       Draw       Loss

Forthcoming matches

*FIFA International match days[42]
*FIFA International match days[43]

UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying

On 23 February 2014 Northern Ireland were drawn to face the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greece, Hungary and Romania in UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F.[44] The matches were scheduled to be played between September 2014 and October 2015.[45]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification Northern Ireland Romania Hungary Finland Faroe Islands Greece
1  Northern Ireland 10 6 3 1 16 8 +8 21 Qualify for final tournament 0–0 1–1 2–1 2–0 3–1
2  Romania 10 5 5 0 11 2 +9 20 2–0 1–1 1–1 1–0 0–0
3  Hungary 10 4 4 2 11 9 +2 16 Advance to play-offs 1–2 0–0 1–0 2–1 0–0
4  Finland 10 3 3 4 9 10 −1 12 1–1 0–2 0–1 1–0 1–1
5  Faroe Islands 10 2 0 8 6 17 −11 6 1–3 0–3 0–1 1–3 2–1
6  Greece 10 1 3 6 7 14 −7 6 0–2 0–1 4–3 0–1 0–1
Source: UEFA
Rules for classification: Qualification tiebreakers


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Current squad

The 23-man squad for Euro 2016 was announced on 28 May, 2016. Caps and goals correct as of 27 May, after the match against Belarus.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Roy Carroll (1977-09-30) 30 September 1977 (age 46) 44 0 Northern Ireland Linfield
1GK Michael McGovern (1984-07-12) 12 July 1984 (age 39) 10 0 Scotland Hamilton Academical
1GK Alan Mannus (1982-05-19) 19 May 1982 (age 42) 8 0 Scotland St Johnstone

2DF Aaron Hughes (1979-11-08) 8 November 1979 (age 44) 99 1 Australia Melbourne City
2DF Chris Baird (1982-02-25) 25 February 1982 (age 42) 77 0 England Derby County
2DF Gareth McAuley (1979-12-05) 5 December 1979 (age 44) 60 7 England West Bromwich Albion
2DF Jonny Evans (1988-01-03) 3 January 1988 (age 36) 48 1 England West Bromwich Albion
2DF Craig Cathcart (1989-02-06) 6 February 1989 (age 35) 27 2 England Watford
2DF Conor McLaughlin (1991-07-26) 26 July 1991 (age 32) 17 0 England Fleetwood Town
2DF Lee Hodson (1991-10-02) 2 October 1991 (age 32) 15 0 England Milton Keynes Dons
2DF Paddy McNair (1995-04-27) 27 April 1995 (age 29) 8 0 England Manchester United
2DF Luke McCullough (1994-02-15) 15 February 1994 (age 30) 5 0 England Doncaster Rovers

3MF Steven Davis (Captain) (1985-01-01) 1 January 1985 (age 39) 82 8 England Southampton
3MF Niall McGinn (1987-07-20) 20 July 1987 (age 36) 41 2 Scotland Aberdeen
3MF Oliver Norwood (1991-04-12) 12 April 1991 (age 33) 33 0 England Reading
3MF Corry Evans (1990-07-17) 17 July 1990 (age 33) 33 1 England Blackburn Rovers
3MF Shane Ferguson (1991-07-12) 12 July 1991 (age 32) 24 1 England Millwall
3MF Stuart Dallas (1991-04-19) 19 April 1991 (age 33) 13 1 England Leeds United

4FW Kyle Lafferty (1987-09-16) 16 September 1987 (age 36) 50 17 England Birmingham City
3MF Jamie Ward (1986-05-12) 12 May 1986 (age 38) 21 2 England Nottingham Forest
4FW Josh Magennis (1990-05-15) 15 May 1990 (age 34) 18 1 Scotland Kilmarnock
4FW Will Grigg (1991-07-03) 3 July 1991 (age 32) 8 1 England Wigan Athletic
4FW Conor Washington (1992-05-18) 18 May 1992 (age 32) 3 2 England Queens Park Rangers

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 Maik Taylor (1971-09-04) 4 September 1971 (age 52) 88 0 Retired v.  Romania, 13 June 2015
GK Trevor Carson (1988-03-05) 5 March 1988 (age 36) 0 0 England Hartlepool United v.  Romania, 13 June 2015

DF Daniel Lafferty (1989-05-18) 18 May 1989 (age 35) 13 0 England Burnley v.  Belarus, 27 May 2016
DF Michael Smith (1988-09-04) 4 September 1988 (age 35) 1 0 England Peterborough United v.  Belarus, 27 May 2016
DF Ryan McLaughlin (1994-09-30) 30 September 1994 (age 29) 4 0 Scotland Aberdeen v.  Finland, 11 October 2015

MF Ben Reeves (1991-11-19) 19 November 1991 (age 32) 2 0 England Milton Keynes Dons v.  Belarus, 27 May 2016
MF Paul Paton (1987-04-18) 18 April 1987 (age 37) 3 0 Scotland Dundee United v.  Slovenia, 28 March 2016
MF Paddy McCourt (1983-12-16) 16 December 1983 (age 40) 18 2 England Luton Town v.  Latvia, 12 November 2015
MF Chris Brunt (1984-12-14) 14 December 1984 (age 39) 54 1 England West Bromwich Albion v.  Latvia, 12 November 2015

FW Billy Mckay (1988-10-22) 22 October 1988 (age 35) 11 0 Scotland Dundee United v.  Belarus, 27 May 2016
FW Liam Boyce (1991-04-08) 8 April 1991 (age 33) 7 0 Scotland Ross County v.  Belarus, 27 May 2016
FW Caolan Lavery (1992-10-22) 22 October 1992 (age 31) 0 0 England Sheffield Wednesday v.  Faroe Islands, 4 September 2015 PRE


  • INJ Withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
  • PRE Preliminary squad.
  • RET Retired from the national team.

Previous squads

FIFA World Cup squads

Greatest ever team

The following players were voted by fans as worthy of being included in the Irish Football Association's Greatest Ever Team (in a 4-4-2 formation).[46]

Managerial team

MAN: Billy Bingham (manager 1967–71, 1980–93)
ASS: Michael O'Neill (manager 2012–date)

First XI

Irish Football Association's Greatest Ever Team - First XI

GK: Pat Jennings (1964–86)
RB: Jimmy Nicholl (1976–86)
CB: Aaron Hughes (1998– )
CB: Gareth McAuley (2005– )
LB: Mal Donaghy (1980–94)
RM: Keith Gillespie (1994–2008)
CM: Danny Blanchflower (1949–63)
CM: Steven Davis (2005– )
LM: George Best (1964–77)
CF: David Healy (2000–13)
CF: Gerry Armstrong (1977–86)


Irish Football Association's Greatest Ever Team - Subs

SUB GK: Harry Gregg (1954–64)
SUB RB: Pat Rice (1968–79)
SUB CB: Alan McDonald (1985–96)
SUB LB: Sammy Nelson (1970–82)
SUB RM: Billy Bingham (1951–63)
SUB CM: Norman Whiteside (1982–89)
SUB LM: Michael Hughes (1991–2004)
SUB CF: Peter Doherty (1935–50)

Player records

Northern Ireland players with 55 or more caps

As of March 28, 2016 the players with the most caps for Northern Ireland are:

Aaron Hughes is the most capped outfield player
# Name Career Caps Goals
1 Pat Jennings 1964–1986 119 0
2 Aaron Hughes 1998–present 99 1
3 David Healy 2000–2013 95 36
4 Mal Donaghy 1980–1994 91 0
5 Sammy McIlroy 1972–1987 88 5
Maik Taylor 1999–2011 88 0
7 Keith Gillespie 1995–2008 86 2
8 Steven Davis 2005–present 81 8
9 Chris Baird 2003–present 76 0
10 Jimmy Nicholl 1976–1986 73 1
11 Michael Hughes 1992–2004 71 5
12 David McCreery 1976–1990 67 0
13 Nigel Worthington 1984–1997 66 0
14 Martin O'Neill 1972–1985 64 8
15 Gerry Armstrong 1977–1986 63 12
16 Iain Dowie 1990–2000 59 12
Terry Neill 1961–1973 59 2
Gareth McAuley 2005- 60 7
19 Billy Bingham 1951–1964 56 10
Danny Blanchflower 1950–1963 56 2
Damien Johnson 1999–2010 56 0

Top Ireland / Northern Ireland goalscorers

As of March 24, 2016

David Healy, the current top goalscorer of Northern Ireland
# Player Career Goals (Caps) Goals per game
1 David Healy (list) 2000–2013 36 (95) 0.38
2 Kyle Lafferty 2006–present 16 (48) 0.33
3 Billy Gillespie 1913–1932 13 (25) 0.52
Colin Clarke 1986–1993 13 (38) 0.34
5 Joe Bambrick 1928–1940 12 (11) 1.09
Gerry Armstrong 1977–1986 12 (63) 0.19
Jimmy Quinn 1985–1996 12 (46) 0.26
Iain Dowie 1990–2000 12 (59) 0.20
10 Olphie Stanfield 1887–1897 11 (30) 0.37
11 Billy Bingham 1951–1964 10 (56) 0.18
Jimmy McIlroy 1952–1966 10 (55) 0.18
Peter McParland 1954–1962 10 (34) 0.29
Johnny Crossan 1960–1968 10 (24) 0.42


As of 12 November 2015
Manager Career Played Won Drawn Lost Win % Loss %
Northern Ireland Peter Doherty 1951–1962 56 11 15 30 19.64 53.57
Northern Ireland Bertie Peacock 1962–1967 22 9 3 10 40.91 45.45
Northern Ireland Billy Bingham 1967–1971 20 8 3 9 40.00 45.00
Northern Ireland Terry Neill 1971–1975 20 6 6 8 30.00 40.00
Northern Ireland Dave Clements 1975–1976 11 2 2 7 18.18 63.64
Northern Ireland Danny Blanchflower 1976–1979 16 4 4 8 25.00 50.00
Northern Ireland Billy Bingham 1980–1994 118 40 34 44 33.90 37.29
Northern Ireland Bryan Hamilton 1994–1998 32 8 9 15 25.00 46.88
England Lawrie McMenemy 1998–1999 14 4 3 7 28.57 50.00
Northern Ireland Sammy McIlroy 2000–2003 31 4 10 17 12.90 54.84
Northern Ireland Lawrie Sanchez 2004–2007 32 11 10 11 34.38 34.38
Northern Ireland Nigel Worthington 2007–2011 41 9 10 22 21.95 53.66
Northern Ireland Michael O'Neill 2011–Present 33 9 12 12 27.27 36.36

Current coaching staff

Position Name
Manager Northern Ireland Michael O'Neill
Assistant Manager Northern Ireland Jimmy Nicholl
Coach Northern Ireland Steve Robinson
Assistant coach/analyst Scotland Austin MacPhee
Goalkeeping coach Northern Ireland Maik Taylor
Physio England Caroline Woods
Team Attendant vacant

Kit suppliers

Kit provider Period
United Kingdom Umbro 1975 – 1977
Germany Adidas 1977 – 1990
United Kingdom Umbro 1990 – 1994
Japan ASICS 1994 – 1998
France Olympic Sportswear 1998 – 1999
Belgium Patrick 1999 – 2004
United Kingdom Umbro 2004 – 2012
Germany Adidas 2012 – Present

Media coverage

Sky Sports currently have the rights to show all of Northern Ireland's international fixtures. For many years the games were shown live on BBC Northern Ireland, until the rights to home games were sold to Sky in 2007.[47] In May 2013, Sky acquired the rights to all Northern Ireland qualifying games for UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[48] From 2008-2013, BBC Northern Ireland held the rights to all of Northern Ireland's home international qualifiers. But in May 2013, ITV secured a deal to show highlights of the European Qualifiers, including Northern Ireland games, between 2014 and 2017.

In 2015, BBC Northern Ireland acquired the rights to show Northern Ireland's friendlies before UEFA Euro 2016 live.

See also


  1. The last match played as Ireland was 1978 versus Scotland,[2] however, apart from this match, all British Championship matches had been played as "Northern Ireland" since the 1973-74 tournament.[3] 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".[4]


  1. Matthew Taylor (2008). The Association Game: A History of British Football. Harlow:Pearson Education Ltd.
  2. Ireland v Scotland programme
  3. Match programmes 1972-75
  4. Northern Ireland programmes 1968-72
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  11. Report slams Windsor Park safety BBC News
  12. IFA wants out of Windsor contract BBC News
  13. South Stand future under threat BBC News
  14. Plans for £128m Belfast stadium unveiled – The Independent, 25/03/09
  15. IFA 'backs Windsor as NI stadium' – BBC News, 07/09/09
  16. Linfield FC has £20m stadium plan – BBC News, 12/06/09
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  40. Irish Football Association (2009). Official Souvenir Programme: Northern Ireland vs Serbia. Belfast:Irish Football Association
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External links