FIFA World Cup™ finals history
Northern Ireland can look back on three trips to the World Cup, two of which saw them progress as far as the quarter-finals, in 1958 and 1982. An extra-time group play-off win over Czechoslovakia in 1958 – courtesy of a Peter McParland brace – and a 1-0 win over hosts Spain next time out undoubtedly rank as highlights, though France proved their undoing at both tournaments.
Largely built up from players spanning the top two divisions from British leagues, the backbone is built on West Bromwich Albion trio Chris Brunt, Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans alongside Steven Davis of Southampton. Youngster Paddy McNair, who recently completed a move to Sunderland from Manchester United, looks set to impress, while Kyle Lafferty will be expected to provide the goals.
A relatively inexperienced coach before taking the role in 2011, Michael O'Neill has won hearts and minds thanks to some famous results. A point in Portugal and win over Russia in Brazil 2014 qualifying showed promise, backed up by away wins in Greece and Hungary during UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers. At EURO 2016, O'Neill and his team reached the Round of 16, where they fell to Wales in a narrow 1-0 defeat.
1 – Northern Ireland average a goal per game across their 13 matches at the finals.
The former stars
Gerry Armstrong, George Best, Pat Jennings, Danny Blanchflower