Northern Ireland national football team

Last updated

Northern Ireland
Irish Football Association logo.svg
Nickname(s) Green and White Army,
Norn Iron
Association Irish Football Association
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach Ian Baraclough
Captain Steven Davis
Most caps Steven Davis (126)
Top scorer David Healy (36)
Home stadium Windsor Park
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First colours
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Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 48 Steady2.svg(27 May 2021) [1]
Highest20 (September 2017)
Lowest129 (September 2012)
First international
Saint Patrick's Saltire.svg  Ireland 0–13 England  Flag of England.svg
(Belfast; 18 February 1882)
as Northern Ireland
Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland 1–4 England  Flag of England.svg
(Belfast; 7 October 1950)
Biggest win
Saint Patrick's Saltire.svg  Ireland 7–0 Wales  Flag of Wales (1807-1953).svg
(Belfast; 1 February 1930)
as Northern Ireland
Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland 5–0 Cyprus  Flag of Cyprus.svg
(Belfast; 21 April 1971)
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg  Faroe Islands 0–5 Northern Ireland  Ulster Banner.svg
(Landskrona; 11 September 1991)
Biggest defeat
Saint Patrick's Saltire.svg  Ireland 0–13 England  Flag of England.svg
(Belfast; 18 February 1882)
as Northern Ireland
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 6–0 Northern Ireland  Ulster Banner.svg
(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

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.


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.


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 Aankomst Noordierse elftal op Zestienhoven; trainer Blanchflower en George Best (r).jpg
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. 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 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]


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 Windsor Park football stadium - Empty.JPG
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. Windsor Park redevelopment .jpg
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]


The Green and White Army GAWA.jpg
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 Neil lennon and excalibur.jpg
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.

Neil Lennon

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]


Current squad

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

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

No.Pos.PlayerDate of birth (age)CapsGoalsClub
1 GK Bailey Peacock-Farrell (1996-10-29) 29 October 1996 (age 24)230 Flag of England.svg Burnley
1 GK Conor Hazard (1998-03-05) 5 March 1998 (age 23)20 Flag of Scotland.svg Celtic
1 GK Liam Hughes (2001-08-19) 19 August 2001 (age 19)00 Flag of England.svg Liverpool

2 DF Craig Cathcart (1989-02-06) 6 February 1989 (age 32)612 Flag of England.svg Watford
2 DF Stuart Dallas (1991-04-19) 19 April 1991 (age 30)563 Flag of England.svg Leeds United
2 DF Shane Ferguson (1991-07-12) 12 July 1991 (age 29)491 Flag of England.svg Millwall
2 DF Paddy McNair (1995-04-27) 27 April 1995 (age 26)474 Flag of England.svg Middlesbrough
2 DF Daniel Ballard (1999-09-22) 22 September 1999 (age 21)80 Flag of England.svg Blackpool
2 DF Ciaron Brown (1998-01-14) 14 January 1998 (age 23)40 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Cardiff City
2 DF Sam McClelland (2002-01-04) 4 January 2002 (age 19)10 Flag of England.svg Chelsea
2 DF Conor Bradley (2003-07-09) 9 July 2003 (age 17)10 Flag of England.svg Liverpool

3 MF Niall McGinn (1987-07-20) 20 July 1987 (age 33)666 Flag of Scotland.svg Aberdeen
3 MF George Saville (1993-06-01) 1 June 1993 (age 28)310 Flag of England.svg Middlesbrough
3 MF Gavin Whyte (1996-01-31) 31 January 1996 (age 25)193 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Cardiff City
3 MF Jordan Thompson (1997-01-03) 3 January 1997 (age 24)160 Flag of England.svg Stoke City
3 MF Jordan Jones (1994-10-24) 24 October 1994 (age 26)121 Flag of Scotland.svg Rangers
3 MF Ali McCann (1999-12-04) 4 December 1999 (age 21)61 Flag of Scotland.svg St Johnstone
3 MF Ethan Galbraith (2001-05-11) 11 May 2001 (age 20)20 Flag of England.svg Manchester United
3 MF Alfie McCalmont (2000-03-25) 25 March 2000 (age 21)20 Flag of England.svg Leeds United

4 FW Kyle Lafferty (1987-09-16) 16 September 1987 (age 33)8320 Flag of Scotland.svg Kilmarnock
4 FW Josh Magennis (1990-05-15) 15 May 1990 (age 31)618 Flag of England.svg Hull City
4 FW Liam Boyce (1991-04-08) 8 April 1991 (age 30)282 Flag of Scotland.svg Heart of Midlothian
4 FW Shayne Lavery (1998-12-08) 8 December 1998 (age 22)70 Ulster Banner.svg Linfield
4 FW Paul Smyth (1997-09-10) 10 September 1997 (age 23)31 Flag of England.svg Queens Park Rangers
4 FW Dion Charles (1995-10-07) 7 October 1995 (age 25)30 Flag of England.svg Accrington Stanley

Recent call-ups

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

Pos.PlayerDate of birth (age)CapsGoalsClubLatest call-up
GK Nathan Gartside (1998-03-08) 8 March 1998 (age 23)00 Flag of Ireland.svg Derry City v. Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria , 31 March 2021 WTD
GK Michael McGovern (1984-07-12) 12 July 1984 (age 36)330 Flag of England.svg Norwich City v. Flag of Romania.svg  Romania , 18 November 2020
GK Trevor Carson (1988-03-05) 5 March 1988 (age 33)60 Flag of Scotland.svg Motherwell v. Flag of Norway.svg  Norway , 14 October 2020

DF Jonny Evans (1988-01-03) 3 January 1988 (age 33)914 Flag of England.svg Leicester City v. Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria , 31 March 2021
DF Conor McLaughlin (1991-07-26) 26 July 1991 (age 29)431 Flag of England.svg Sunderland v. Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria , 31 March 2021
DF Jamal Lewis (1998-01-25) 25 January 1998 (age 23)200 Flag of England.svg Newcastle United v. Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria , 31 March 2021
DF Michael Smith (1988-09-04) 4 September 1988 (age 32)171 Flag of Scotland.svg Heart of Midlothian v. Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria , 31 March 2021
DF Tom Flanagan (1991-10-21) 21 October 1991 (age 29)80 Flag of England.svg Sunderland v. Flag of Romania.svg  Romania , 18 November 2020
DF Ryan McLaughlin (1994-09-30) 30 September 1994 (age 26)50 Flag of England.svg Rochdale v. Flag of Romania.svg  Romania , 18 November 2020

MF Steven Davis (captain) (1985-01-01) 1 January 1985 (age 36)12612 Flag of Scotland.svg Rangers v. Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria , 31 March 2021
MF Corry Evans (1990-07-17) 17 July 1990 (age 30)662 Flag of England.svg Blackburn Rovers v. Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria , 31 March 2021
MF Matty Kennedy (1994-11-01) 1 November 1994 (age 26)30 Flag of Scotland.svg Aberdeen v. Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria , 31 March 2021
MF Joel Cooper (1996-02-29) 29 February 1996 (age 25)00 Flag of England.svg Oxford United v. Flag of Norway.svg  Norway , 14 October 2020

FW Conor Washington (1992-05-18) 18 May 1992 (age 29)294 Flag of England.svg Charlton Athletic v. Flag of Italy.svg  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


4 September 2020–21 UEFA Nations League B Romania  Flag of Romania.svg1–1Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland Bucharest, Romania
19:45 BST
Match 649
Pușcaș Soccerball shade.svg 25' Report Whyte Soccerball shade.svg 86'Stadium: Arena Națională
Attendance: 0
Referee: François Letexier (France)
7 September 2020–21 UEFA Nations League B Northern Ireland  Ulster Banner.svg1–5Flag of Norway.svg  Norway Belfast, Northern Ireland
19:45 BST
Match 650
McNair Soccerball shade.svg 6' Report Elyounoussi Soccerball shade.svg 2'
Haaland Soccerball shade.svg 7', 58'
Sørloth Soccerball shade.svg 19', 47'
Stadium: Windsor Park
Attendance: 0
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
12 November UEFA Euro 2020 Path B Play-off Final Northern Ireland  Ulster Banner.svg1–2 (a.e.t.)Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia Belfast, Northern Ireland
19:45 GMT
Match 654
Škriniar Soccerball shade.svg 88' (o.g.) Report Kucka Soccerball shade.svg 17'
Ďuriš Soccerball shade.svg 110'
Stadium: Windsor Park
Attendance: 1060
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)
18 November 2020–21 UEFA Nations League B Northern Ireland  Ulster Banner.svg1–1Flag of Romania.svg  Romania Belfast, Northern Ireland
19:45 GMT
Match 656
Boyce Soccerball shade.svg 56' Report Bicfalvi Soccerball shade.svg 81'Stadium: Windsor Park
Attendance: 1060
Referee: Sandro Schärer (Switzerland)


25 March 2022 FIFA World Cup Group C Qualifier Italy  Flag of Italy.svg2–0Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland Parma, Italy
19:45 GMT
Match 657
Berardi Soccerball shade.svg 14'
Immobile Soccerball shade.svg 39'
Report Stadium: Stadio Ennio Tardini
Attendance: 0
Referee: Ali Palabıyık (Turkey)
28 March International Friendly Northern Ireland  Ulster Banner.svg1–2Flag of the United States.svg  United States Belfast, Northern Ireland
17:05 BST
Match 658
McGinn Soccerball shade.svg 88' Report Reyna Soccerball shade.svg 30'
Pulisic Soccerball shade.svg 59' (pen.)
Stadium: Windsor Park
Attendance: 0
Referee: Robert Jenkins (Wales)
30 May International Friendly Malta  Flag of Malta.svg0–3Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland Klagenfurt, Austria
17:00 BST
Match 660
Report Jones Soccerball shade.svg 2'
Whyte Soccerball shade.svg 53'
McCann Soccerball shade.svg 55'
Stadium: Wörthersee Stadion
Referee: Sebastian Gishamer (Austria)
3 June International Friendly Ukraine  Flag of Ukraine.svg1–0Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland Dnipro, Ukraine
19:00 BST
Match 661
Zubkov Soccerball shade.svg 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]

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsQualification Flag of Italy.svg Flag of Switzerland.svg Ulster Banner.svg Flag of Bulgaria.svg Flag of Lithuania.svg
1Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 330060+69Qualification to 2022 FIFA World Cup 12 Nov 2–0 2 Sep 8 Sep
2Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland 220041+36Advance to second round 5 Sep 9 Oct 15 Nov 1–0
3Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland 20110221 15 Nov 8 Sep 0–0 12 Nov
4Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria 30121541 0–2 1–3 12 Oct 5 Sep
5Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania 20020330 0–2 12 Oct 2 Sep 9 Oct
Updated to match(es) played on 31 March 2021. Source: FIFA, UEFA
Rules for classification: Tiebreakers


Most capped players

As of 3 June 2021after the match against Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine .
  Players still active are highlighted in green
Aaron Hughes has been the most capped outfield player, before being surpassed by Steven Davis Aaron Hughes 2012.jpg
Aaron Hughes has been the most capped outfield player, before being surpassed by Steven Davis
#NameCapsGoalsFirst CapLast Cap
1 Steven Davis 126129 February 2005 vs. Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg 31 March 2021 vs. Flag of Bulgaria.svg
2 Pat Jennings 119015 April 1964 vs. Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg 12 June 1986 vs. Flag of Brazil (1968-1992).svg
3 Aaron Hughes 112125 March 1998 vs. Flag of Slovakia.svg 3 June 2018 vs. Flag of Panama.svg
4 David Healy 953623 February 2000 vs. Flag of Luxembourg.svg 26 March 2013 vs. Flag of Israel.svg
5 Mal Donaghy 91016 May 1980 vs. Flag of Scotland.svg 11 June 1994 vs. Flag of Mexico.svg
Jonny Evans 9146 September 2006 vs. Flag of Spain.svg 31 March 2021 vs. Flag of Bulgaria.svg
7 Sammy McIlroy 88516 February 1972 vs. Flag of Spain (1945-1977).svg 15 October 1986 vs. Flag of England.svg
Maik Taylor 88027 March 1999 vs. Flag of Germany.svg 11 October 2011 vs. Flag of Italy.svg
9 Keith Gillespie 8627 September 1995 vs. Flag of Portugal.svg 19 November 2008 vs. Flag of Hungary.svg
10 Kyle Lafferty 832021 May 2006 vs. Flag of Uruguay.svg 3 June 2021 vs. Flag of Ukraine.svg

Top goalscorers

As of 3 June 2021after the match against Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine .
  Players still active are highlighted in green
#NameNI CareerGoalsCapsGoals per gameFirst GoalLast Goal
1 David Healy (list)2000–201336950.3823 February 2000 vs. Flag of Luxembourg.svg 14 November 2012 vs. Flag of Azerbaijan.svg
2 Kyle Lafferty 2006–present20830.2416 August 2006 vs. Flag of Finland.svg 11 November 2016 vs. Flag of Azerbaijan.svg
3 Billy Gillespie 1913–193213250.5215 February 1913 vs. Flag of England.svg 20 October 1926 vs. Flag of England.svg
Colin Clarke 1986–199313380.3423 April 1986 vs. Flag of Morocco.svg 9 September 1992 vs. Flag of Albania.svg
5 Joe Bambrick 1928–194012111.0922 October 1928 vs. Flag of England.svg 16 March 1938 vs. Flag of Wales (1807-1953).svg
Jimmy Quinn 1984–199512460.2616 October 1984 vs. Flag of Israel.svg 11 October 1995 vs. Flag of Liechtenstein.svg
Iain Dowie 1990–199912590.216 October 1991 vs. Flag of Austria.svg 18 November 1998 vs. Flag of Moldova.svg
Gerry Armstrong 1977–198612630.1916 November 1977 vs. Flag of Belgium (civil).svg 14 November 1984 vs. Flag of Finland.svg
Steven Davis 2005–121260.18 October 2005 vs. Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg 21 March 2019 vs. Flag of Estonia.svg
10 Olphie Stanfield 1887–189711300.3712 March 1887 vs. Flag of Wales (1807-1953).svg 6 March 1897 vs. Flag of Wales (1807-1953).svg

FIFA Rankings

Last updated on 16 July 2020. [41]

FIFA World Rankings

 Worst Ranking   Best Ranking   Worst Mover   Best Mover  

452020803536Steady2.svg 0 (February)45Decrease2.svg 4 (November)
3620191061328Increase2.svg 5 (June)36Decrease2.svg 4 (October)
352018922524Increase2.svg 2 (March)35Decrease2.svg 6 (October)
242017951320Increase2.svg 9 (April)35Decrease2.svg 3 (October)
3220161353525Increase2.svg 4 (November)36Decrease2.svg 6 (October)
302015944129Increase2.svg 8 (March)51Decrease2.svg 4 (April)
482014731343Increase2.svg28 (October)95Decrease2.svg 6 (August)
892013812586Increase2.svg 23 (September)119Decrease2.svg 22 (April)
962012704386Increase2.svg 17 (November)129Decrease2.svg28 (September)
8820111011838Increase2.svg 5 (February)89Decrease2.svg 25 (April)
4320101013439Increase2.svg 14 (September)59Decrease2.svg 11 (March)
402009933327Increase2.svg 15 (April)52Decrease2.svg 9 (November)
522008822432Increase2.svg 2 (June)52Decrease2.svg 10 (December)
322007942327Increase2.svg 14 (April)49Decrease2.svg 9 (September)
482006841345Increase2.svg 21 (July)103Decrease2.svg 3 (November)
103200510226101Increase2.svg 15 (September)116Decrease2.svg 4 (August)
107200411362107Increase2.svg 9 (April)124Decrease2.svg 2 (July)
12220038026106Increase2.svg 1 (June)122Decrease2.svg 7 (October)
1032002603389Increase2.svg 1 (April)103Decrease2.svg 8 (September)
882001821588Increase2.svg 10 (September)107Decrease2.svg 4 (June)
932000731384Increase2.svg 5 (October)98Decrease2.svg 5 (May)
841999812567Increase2.svg 19 (January)84Decrease2.svg 7 (October)
861998631286Increase2.svg 7 (October)99Decrease2.svg 6 (February)
931997913563Increase2.svg 5 (April)93Decrease2.svg 10 (December)
641996713348Increase2.svg 11 (December)75Decrease2.svg 9 (October)
451995832345Increase2.svg 10 (September)55Decrease2.svg 5 (February)
451994730433Increase2.svg 7 (April)45Decrease2.svg 8 (June)
391993841339Increase2.svg 3 (August)42Decrease2.svg 2 (October)

FIFA ranking history

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


  Current manager highlighted in green

Last updated after match against Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine on 3 June 2021.

ManagerFirst GameLast GamePldWDLGFGAGDWin %Draw %Loss %
Ulster Banner.svg Irish FA Selection Committee 18 February 1882 vs. Flag of England.svg 12 May 1951 vs. Flag of France (1794-1815, 1830-1958).svg 1772927121200568-36816.39%15.25%68.36%
Ulster Banner.svg Peter Doherty 6 October 1951 vs. Flag of Scotland.svg 9 May 1962 vs. Flag of the Netherlands.svg 519142867119-5217.65%27.45%54.90%
Ulster Banner.svg Bertie Peacock 10 October 1962 vs. Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg 12 April 1967 vs. Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg 28114134654-839.29%14.29%46.42%
Ulster Banner.svg Billy Bingham 21 October 1967 vs. Flag of Scotland.svg 22 May 1971 vs. Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg 208392422+240.00%15.00%45.00%
Ulster Banner.svg Terry Neill 22 September 1971 vs. Flag of the Soviet Union.svg 30 October 1974 vs. Flag of Sweden.svg 206681618-230.00%30.00%40.00%
Ulster Banner.svg Dave Clements 16 April 1975 vs. Flag of Yugoslavia (1946-1992).svg 14 May 1976 vs. Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg 11326715-827.27%18.18%54.55%
Ulster Banner.svg Danny Blanchflower 13 October 1976 vs. Flag of the Netherlands.svg 21 November 1979 vs. Flag of Ireland.svg 2465131938-1925.00%20.83%54.17%
Ulster Banner.svg Billy Bingham 26 March 1980 vs. Flag of Israel.svg 17 November 1993 vs. Flag of Ireland.svg 9832313591107-1632.65%31.64%35.71%
Ulster Banner.svg Bryan Hamilton 23 March 1994 vs. Flag of Romania.svg 11 October 1997 vs. Flag of Portugal.svg 3188153441-725.81%25.81%48.38%
Flag of England.svg Lawrie McMenemy 25 March 1998 vs. Flag of Slovakia.svg 9 October 1999 vs. Flag of Finland.svg 14437925-1628.57%21.43%50.00%
Ulster Banner.svg Sammy McIlroy 23 February 2000 vs. Flag of Luxembourg.svg 2 April 2003 vs. Flag of Greece.svg 2957171940-2117.24%24.14%58.62%
Ulster Banner.svg Lawrie Sanchez 18 February 2004 vs. Flag of Norway.svg 28 March 2007 vs. Flag of Sweden.svg 321110113542-734.38%31.24%34.38%
Ulster Banner.svg Nigel Worthington 22 August 2007 vs. Flag of Liechtenstein.svg 11 October 2011 vs. Flag of Italy.svg 41910223555-2021.95%24.39%53.66%
Ulster Banner.svg Michael O'Neill 29 February 2012 vs. Flag of Norway.svg 19 November 2019 vs. Flag of Germany.svg 722618287583-836.11%25.00%38.89%
Flag of England.svg Ian Baraclough 4 September 2020 vs. Flag of Romania.svg -131481019-97.69%30.77%61.54%

Statistics include official FIFA recognised matches only

Current coaching staff

Manager Flag of England.svg Ian Baraclough
Assistant Manager Ulster Banner.svg Jimmy Nicholl
Coaching Assistant Ulster Banner.svg Damien Johnson
Coach/Analyst Flag of Scotland.svg Austin MacPhee
Goalkeeping Coach Flag of England.svg Steve Harper
Head Physiotherapist Ulster Banner.svg Caroline Woods
Kit Manager Ulster Banner.svg Raymond Millar

Kit suppliers

Kit providerPeriod
Logo Umbro.png
Adidas Logo.svg
Logo Umbro.png
Asics Logo.svg
Olympic Sportswear1998–1999
Patrick Logotipo.svg
Logo Umbro.png
Adidas Logo.svg

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 recordQualification recordManager(s)
Flag of Uruguay.svg 1930 Not a FIFA memberNot a FIFA memberNone
Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg 1934
Flag of France.svg 1938
Flag of Brazil (1889-1960).svg 1950 Did not qualify3012417 Irish FA Committee
Flag of Switzerland.svg 1954 310247 Peter Doherty
Flag of Sweden.svg 1958 Quarter-finals8th5212610 Squad 421163
Flag of Chile.svg 1962 Did not qualify410378
Flag of England.svg 1966 632195 Bertie Peacock
Flag of Mexico.svg 1970 421173 Billy Bingham
Flag of Germany.svg 1974 613256 Terry Neill
Flag of Argentina.svg 1978 621376 Danny Blanchflower
Flag of Spain.svg 1982 Second group stage9th513157 Squad 833263 Billy Bingham
Flag of Mexico.svg 1986 Group stage21st301226 Squad 842285
Flag of Italy.svg 1990 Did not qualify8215612
Flag of the United States.svg 1994 125341413
Flag of France.svg 1998 10145610 Bryan Hamilton
Flag of South Korea.svg Flag of Japan.svg 2002 103251112 Sammy McIlroy
Flag of Germany.svg 2006 102351018 Lawrie Sanchez
Flag of South Africa.svg 2010 10433139 Nigel Worthington
Flag of Brazil.svg 2014 10145917 Michael O'Neill
Flag of Russia.svg 2018 12624177
Flag of Qatar.svg 2022 To be determined201102 Ian Baraclough
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Flag of Mexico.svg Flag of the United States.svg 2026
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

UEFA European Championship

UEFA European Championship recordQualification recordManager(s)
Flag of France.svg 1960 Did not enterDid not enterNone
Flag of Spain (1945-1977).svg 1964 Did not qualify421152 Bertie Peacock
Flag of Italy.svg 1968 611428 Bertie Peacock, Billy Bingham [42]
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg 1972 6222106 Billy Bingham, Terry Neill [43]
Flag of Yugoslavia (1946-1992).svg 1976 630385 Terry Neill, Dave Clements [44]
Flag of Italy.svg 1980 8413814 Danny Blanchflower
Flag of France.svg 1984 851285 Billy Bingham
Flag of Germany.svg 1988 6114210
Flag of Sweden.svg 1992 82331111
Flag of England.svg 1996 105232015 Bryan Hamilton
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Flag of the Netherlands.svg 2000 8125419 Lawrie McMenemy
Flag of Portugal.svg 2004 803508 Sammy McIlroy
Flag of Austria.svg Flag of Switzerland.svg 2008 126241714 Lawrie Sanchez, Nigel Worthington [45]
Flag of Poland.svg Flag of Ukraine.svg 2012 10235913 Nigel Worthington
Flag of France.svg 2016 Round of 1616th410323 Squad 10631168 Michael O'Neill
Flag of Europe.svg 2020 Did not qualify104241116 Michael O'Neill, Ian Baraclough [46]
Flag of Germany.svg 2024 To be determined
TotalRound of 161/16410323120442749131154
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalties.

UEFA Nations League

UEFA Nations League recordManager(s)
Flag of Portugal.svg 2018–19 B 3 400427Equals-sign-blue.gif24th Michael O'Neill
Flag of Italy.svg 2020–21 B 1 6024411Red Arrow Down.svg32nd Ian Baraclough
Flag of None.svg 2022–23 C To Be Determined

Summary of results

All competitive matches [47]
All matches including friendlies [48] [49]

Results updated after match against Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine on 3 June 2021.


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


    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]

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