About England Stats

  • England Stats is designed, maintained, researched and updated by Davey Naylor, a web and IT specialist based in Hertfordshire.
  • England Stats has been online since 1998 and is updated frequently with new research and after every England match. The aim is to try and document the story of the national team.

Useful Information

  • ELO Ratings
  • Englandstats.com uses the ELO Ratings system to accurately establish the strengths of national teams against each other. Sadly, the official FIFA Rankings are deeply flawed (For example, a team can increase it's ranking dramatically by not playing any friendly matches for twelve months). Also the official rankings only go back to 1995 (when they were even more flawed!).
  • ELO Ratings have several benefits over the official system, firstly they can be calculated after each match instead of a monthly ranking from FIFA, secondly they can be applied retrospectively to all International matches since the first in 1872. It is based on the system created by Dr Arpad Elo to rank Chess Grand Masters.
  • England have been top of the Ratings many times, naturally during the early days when only England and Scotland were International playing nations. They last topped the list just prior to Euro '88. England have never been lower than 16th, which last occured during the 2014 World Cup.
  • Matches and Caps
  • In 2001 FIFA tried to bring a level of consistency into international football be standardising the definition. To wit, a international match, to be declared official, must be between two affiliated sovereign nations in their own right. Annoyingly, they thought that it would be best to retrospectively apply this criteria to all international matches ever. This brings into dispute three England International Matches (two against The Rest of Europe and one versus The Rest of the World). These games were called official at the time and caps were awarded. Thankfully the FA doesn't agree with FIFAs reclassification of these matches and neither does englandstats.com and so they are included here as if they were full matches and caps remain.
  • Two matches have been abandoned (Argentina 1953 and Ireland 1995). The matches, whilst not completed, are still classified as full internationals and caps awarded.

  • Formations and Playing Positions
  • Trying to indentify a formation or playing position is tricky to do especially in today's ever changing tactical game. However, we are helped by the FA's dogged resistence to squad numbers. Apart from major tournaments (where squad numbers have to be used) and warm-up games to these tournaments, every single England match since 1937 has used the numbers 1-11 when shirt numbers were first used in an international. Even before this we can be pretty certain of the playing positions simply by the line-up. Like rugby, the playing positions were virtually set in stone thanks to the "Pyramid" formation developed in the 1880s.
  • The earliest formations from the 1860s were heavily loaded towards attacking. In the first ever international match in 1872 England played with a 1-2-7 formation. One full back, two half backs, and seven forwards. This was interchangeable with a 1-3-6 or 2-2-6 formation where a forward made way for another full back or half back but the attacking intent was still the same. The 2-2-6 formation became a staple for the English side from 1879 for the next five years.
  • The great Preston North End team of the 1880s mastered the art of the "Pyramid" formation, the 2-3-5 system (two full backs; right and left, three half backs; left, right and centre and five forwards; outside left, inside left, centre forward, inside right and outside right). Soon everyone was using it, the England selectors did so first in 1884. The "Pyramid" dominated the game for the next 45 years.
  • In some instances it is very difficult to ascertain the true playing position of a tactical substitute without first hand evidence. In these cases we have used a best guess based on the player he replaced and the likely position he would have played in as a starter.
  • Below are the abbreviations of playing positions we have used on Englandstats:
    • GK - Goalkeeper

      FB - Full Back (or further defined as:)
      RB - Right Back
      LB - Left Back

      CB - Centre Back
      SW - Sweeper

      HB - Half Back (or further defined as:)
      RH - Right Half
      CH - Centre Half
      LH - Left Half

      M - Midfielder (or further defined as:)
      DM - Defensive Midfielder
      AM - Attacking Midfielder
      RW - Right Wing
      LW - Left wing
      RWB - Right Wing Back
      LWB - Left Wing Back

      F - Forward (or further definded as:)
      OR - Outside Right
      IR - Inside Right
      IL - Inside Left
      OL - Outside Left
      RF - Right Forward
      CF - Centre Forward
      LF - Left Forward
      S - Striker
    • Penalty Shoot-outs
    • Technically to win or lose on penalties is a misnomer. According to both UEFA and FIFA the object of a penalty shoot-out or "kicks from the penalty mark" to give it's official designation, is to decide, after a full ninety minutes plus thirty minutes of extra time, which team will progress to the next round. Interestingly, a penalty shoot-out is not part of the laws of the game. It is up to the competition organisers to arrange how to seperate teams in respect of a draw. Most domestic and international tournaments favour penalties. The first major tournament to include penalty shoot-outs was the 1976 European Chmapionship. Prior to that there was usually a replay within a couple of days of the draw, or in the case of the Home Championship the title was shared, but in today's modern game it would be impossible to counternance that. Thankfully for England, who have been woeful at shoot-outs (won 1, lost 7) can have some consolation that they are classified as draws.


  • Lots of thanks to Chris Taylor (@footieguide) who is helping with a heap of excellent research.
  • Thanks also to Cris Freddi for the much needed kick up the arse. Much more to do, I know.
  • And also to Jon Gregg. This is all your fault!

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