World Cup Rivalries: England

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup less than seven months away and the draw for Brazil set to take place in 11 days time, we look at some Socceroos rivalries.

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup less than seven months away and the draw for Brazil set to take place in 11 days time, we look at some Socceroos rivalries.

Everybody remembers that famous night at Upton Park in 2003.

Tony Popovic and Harry Kewell scored in the first half for the Socceroos, who led 2-0 at the break.

Francis Jeffers, later of the Newcastle Jets, scored on what was his only England appearance, before Brett Emerton wrapped the game up, with an assist from John Aloisi, as the Socceroos recorded a memorable 3-1 win.

Wayne Rooney made his national debut against the Socceroos that night, becoming the youngest ever player to represent the Three Lions.

It was only the sixth clash between the two sides and the first in over a decade. It was the first time that England had hosted Australia, with the previous five fixtures all played Down Under.

The first ever match between Australia and England was May 31, 1980, at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The English side contained names such as Terry Butcher, Frank Lampard Snr, Glen Hoddle and Brian Robson. Hoddle and Paul Mariner scored as England won in front of 30,084 fans.

The teams have since met five more times, including that match in 2003, with Australia recording just the one victory. England have won twice and two matches have been drawn.

Indeed, the 2003 encounter was the day that Australian football came out of the wilderness.

The Socceroos began to play regularly again and it all culminated in the glorious qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, in Germany.

Of course, the Australia v England rivalry is borne out of far more than football.

The unique relationship between the two countries has made for splendid conflict.

Cricket, predominantly, has fostered the rivalry through the Ashes series, whilst Jonny Wilkinson-s legendary drop-goal in the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final is never far from the memory of English sports fans.

Like Australia, England achieved direct qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup courtesy of their performance in their pool, but similar to the Socceroos, they left it to the last minute.

England was joined in Europe-s Group H by Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino in a qualification process that started in September 2012.

Roy Hodgson-s side started well, thrashing Moldova 5-0 away from home. Against Ukraine however, they needed a late Frank Lampard penalty to gain a point at home, before they crushed minnows San Marino 5-0.

They dropped more points next up when they drew 1-1 with Poland. Their 8-0 thrashing of San Marino was of little consequence to the group, but their 1-1 draw against Montenegro was. It left England in a precarious position.

The 0-0 draw against Ukraine in Kiev was greeted with disdain by the English press, but it was clear that Hodgson himself was pleased with the result.

Qualification was still in their hands, but they had to win their last two games at home to finish atop the group. Ukraine beat Poland 1-0 as England thrashed Montenegro 4-1, the most emphatic English performance of the campaign.

Ukraine had an all but guaranteed three points away to San Marino for their final match; England welcomed the tricky Poland.

Those with longer memories will recall the 1974 World Cup Qualifier against the same opposition, when goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, labelled “a clown” by Brian Clough, put in the performance of a lifetime to earn the Poles a 1-1 draw and thus qualify - at England-s expense.

There was to be no repeat though, as Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard scored to guarantee England a place at football-s top table.

The Socceroos are there, too, and perhaps another chapter in this famous rivalry is waiting to be written.