How they qualified
England finished top of European Group H to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ after securing victory on the final matchday against Poland, banishing the demons of four decades earlier when a draw against the same opponents saw the Three Lions miss out on the 1974 tournament.
The road to Brazil 2014 was not as smooth as their campaign to reach South Africa, where they won nine of their ten matches on the way to the 2010 finals. Even though Roy Hodgson guided his side to an undefeated campaign, automatic qualification evaded England until the final match at Wembley. Two draws against closest rivals Ukraine, as well as stalemates in Warsaw and Podogorica, left England fans nervous until captain Steven Gerrard put the home match against Poland beyond doubt with a late goal to double his side's advantage and seal qualification.
FIFA World Cup finals history
England have appeared at 13 editions of the FIFA World Cup, including seven of the last eight. They were below-par at South Africa in 2010, narrowly qualifying from their group with a victory in the final match against Slovenia, before being outclassed 4-1 by Joachim Low’s Germany at the Round of 16 stage. The Three Lions have been FIFA World Cup winners once, in 1966 when they were hosts, but have since suffered a succession of early exits. Sir Bobby Robson came closest to matching the achievements of Sir Alf Ramsey’s ‘Wingless Wonders’, guiding England to the semi-finals at Italy 1990 only to be knocked out on penalties by Germany.
The key players
Wayne Rooney remains England’s greatest talent and his seven goals in six World Cup qualifying starts underlined his importance to Roy Hodgson's side. In midfield, Gerrard and Frank Lampard provide experience and creativity while young guns Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andros Townsend highlight the Three Lions' attacking flair for the future. Danny Welbeck came into his own during qualification, scoring four goals on the way to the finals, while Daniel Sturridge's emergence as one of the English Premier League's top forwards can only bolster Roy Hodgson's attacking options for Brazil.