After tries in Athens (1896), Paris (1900) and St. Louis (1904), the first official Olympic Football Tournament was held in London as hosts Great Britain won the first of two consecutive gold medals. Eight teams entered the competition -- two from France and one each from Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain, Hungary and Bohemia, although the latter two later withdrew.
The sparse field led to some unusual situations and huge margins of victory. After Hungary and Bohemia dropped out, the Netherlands and France were able to reach the semi-finals without playing a game.
In the very first official Olympic football match before an
estimated 2,000 spectators at White City Stadium on 19 October
1908, Denmark rolled to a 9-0 win over France B as forward Vilhelm
Wolfhagen scored four times. In the other preliminary round game,
Great Britain registered a 12-1 triumph over Sweden.
A Hubert Stapley hat-trick led Great Britain a 4-0 win over the Netherlands in one semi-final. In the other, the Danes trounced France A, 17-1, the most goals ever scored in an Olympic match. Wolfhagen scored four goals for the second consecutive match, but his performance was dwarfed by Sophus Nielsen, who found the back of the net on ten occasions, an accomplishment that was equalled four years later, but still stands to this day. Nielsen, however, was held scoreless in the gold-medal match as 8,000 fans at White City Stadium watched Great Britain record a 2-0 victory over Denmark. Frederick Chapman scored in the 20th minute and Vivian Woodward of Tottenham Hotspur tallied in the opening minute of the second half. Despite losing their only previous match, the Netherlands captured the bronze medal, shutting out Sweden, 2-0.