This summer will see the reformation of the Great Britain Olympic football team, who will be competing in their first Olympics since 1960. Great Britain won the second Olympic football competition back in 1908 and followed that up that success with Gold in 1912. They went on to qualify for a further six tournaments, but could not match those initial glory days. From its inception, the Olympic football competition was based around the amateur game, though in 1972, the Football Association stopped recognising amateur footballers. This change thus denied all those who had previously been considered for the Olympic squad the chance to represent Great Britain. This meant that Great Britain stopped attempting to qualify for the Olympic games, even when professionals were deemed eligible to play in 1984.
There have been three occasions in which the home nations would have been eligible to enter the Olympics through their performance at the UEFA U-21 Championship; Scotland in 1992 and 1996, and England in 2008. However, Great Britain did not enter a team on any of those occasions. The decision has been taken for this summer’s tournament that Great Britain, as hosts, would enter a side.
Stuart Pearce is head coach, and will be looking to take his experience from his role as England U-21 coach and England national team interim coach into the Olympic Games. He has a wealth of talent at his disposal, in spite of the fact that no members of the England squad for UEFA EURO 2012 will be participating at London 2012.
Even though England failed to win a game at the UEFA U-21 Championships last year, Great Britain can call on some of the stars from those games. Ryan Bertrand has been pushing Ashley Cole for a place in the Chelsea starting line-up and Marc Albrighton has been in good form for Aston Villa. Jordan Henderson has impressed since his big-money move to Liverpool last summer and Jack Rodwell has had another great season at Everton.
Facts and figures:
Harold Stapley (scored 6 goals at the 1908 Olympics), Harold Walden (scored 9 goals at the 1912 Olympics), Bob Hardisty (scored 3 goals at the 1948 Olympics)
Micah Richards (defender), Aaron Ramsey (midfielder) and Daniel Sturridge (forward)
Great Britain qualified as hosts
The numbers game
52 – It has been 52 years since a Great Britain football team competed at an Olympic Games.