History of English football

History of English football

The History of English football is a long and detailed one, as it is not only the national sport but England was where the game was developed and codified. The modern global game of Football was first codified in 1863 in London. The impetus for this was to unify English public school and university football games. There is evidence for refereed, team football games being played in English schools since at least 1581. An account of an exclusively kicking football game from Nottinghamshire in the fifteenth century bears similarity to football. England can boast the earliest ever documented use of the English word "football" (1409) and the earliest reference to the sport in French (1314). The modern passing game is believed to have been innovated in London [Cox, Richard (2002) The encyclopaedia of British Football, Routledge, United Kingdom] ] [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Fhistory.htm History of Football ] ] and England is home to the oldest football clubs in the world (dating from at least 1857), the world's oldest competition (the FA cup founded in 1871) and the first ever football league (1888). For these reasons England is considered the home of the game of football. [ [http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/pages/misc/mission.htm Corporate ] ]

1200–1800: Pre-codification

Football's roots in England can be found in Medieval football, which was played annually on Shrovetide. It is suggested that this game was derived from those played in Brittany and Normandy, and could have been brought to England in the Norman Conquest. These games were violent and largely ruleless. As a result, they were often banned.

England is the origin of nearly all first accounts of features of football:

In 1280 comes the first account of a kicking ball game. This happened at Ulgham, near Ashington in Northumberland, in which a player was killed as a result of running against an opposing player's dagger. This confirms that by the thirteenth century kicking ball games were being played in England.

In 1314, comes the earliest reference to a game called football when Nicholas de Farndone, Lord Mayor of the City of London issued a decree on behalf of King Edward II banning football. It was written in the French used by the English upper classes at the time. A translation reads: " [f] orasmuch as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large foot balls ["rageries de grosses pelotes de pee"] in the fields of the public from which many evils might arise which God forbid: we command and forbid on behalf of the king, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future."

In 1409 King Henry IV of England gives us the first documented use of the English word "football" when issued a proclamation forbidding the levying of money for "foteball". [ [Magoun, Francis Peabody (1929) Football in Medieval England and middle-English literature. The American Historical Review, vol 35, No. 1; [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=football etymonline.com "football"] ]

At the end of the 15th century comes the earliest description of a football game. This account in Latin of a football game contains a number of features of modern football and comes from Cawston, Nottinghamshire, England. It is included in a manuscript collection of the miracles of King Henry VI of England. Although the precise date is uncertain it certainly comes from between 1481 and 1500. This is the first account of an exclusively "kicking game" and the first description of dribbling: " [t] he game at which they had met for common recreation is called by some the foot-ball game. It is one in which young men, in country sport, propel a huge ball not by throwing it into the air but by striking it and rolling it along the ground, and that not with their hands but with their feet... kicking in opposite directions" The chronicler gives the earliest reference to a football field, stating that: " [t] he boundaries have been marked and the game had started. [ [Magoun, "ibid".] ]

In 1526 comes the first record of a pair of football boots occurs when Henry VIII of England ordered a pair from the Great Wardrobe in 1526. [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1150460,00.html] Unfortunately these are no longer in existence.

In 1581 comes the earliest account of football as an organised team sport. Richard Mulcaster, a student at Eton College in the early 16th century and later headmaster at other English schools provides the earliest references to teams ("sides" and "parties"), positions ("standings"), a referee ("judge over the parties") and a coach "(trayning maister)". Mulcaster's "footeball" had evolved from the disordered and violent forms of traditional football:

:" [s] ome smaller number with such overlooking, sorted into sides and standings, not meeting with their bodies so boisterously to trie their strength: nor shouldring or shuffing one an other so barbarously ... may use footeball for as much good to the body, by the chiefe use of the legges."

Mulcaster also confirms that in sixteenth century England football was very popular and widespread: it had attained "greatnes. .. [and was] much used ... in all places"

Despite this violence continued to be a problem. For example, the parish archives of North Moreton, Oxfordshire for May 1595 state: "Gunter's son and ye Gregorys fell together by ye years at football.Old Gunter drew his dagger and both broke their heads,and they died both within a fortnight after."

In 1602 the earliest reference to a game involving passing the ball comes from cornish hurling. In particular Carew tells us that: "Then must he cast the ball (named Dealing) to some one of his fellowes". In this case, however, the pass is by hand, as in rugby football. Although there are other allusions to ball passing in seventeenth century literature, this is the only one which categorically states that the ball was passed to an another member of the same team. There are no other explicit references to passing the ball between members of the same team until the 1860s, however, in 1650 English puritan Richard Baxter alludes to player to player passing of the ball during a football game in his book Everlasting Rest: "like a Football in the midst of a crowd of Boys, tost about in contention from one to another" [ Marples, M. 1954. A History of Football, Secker and Warburg, London ] .

The first references to "goals" come from England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. In 1584 and 1602 respectively, John Norden and Richard Carew referred to "goals" in Cornish hurling. Carew described how goals were made: "they pitch two bushes in the ground, some eight or ten foote asunder; and directly against them, ten or twelue [twelve] score off, other twayne in like distance, which they terme their Goales". [http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext06/srvcr10.txt] He is also the first to refer to goalkeeping.

The first direct references to "scoring a goal" come from England in the 1600s. For example, in John Day's play "The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green" (performed circa 1600; published 1659): "I'll play a gole at camp-ball" (an extremely violent variety of football, which was popular in East Anglia). [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/spe/spe10.htm Sports and Pastimes of the People of England: II. Rural Exercises Generally Practised: Chapter III ] ] . Similarly in a poem in 1613, Michael Drayton refers to "when the Ball to throw, And drive it to the Gole, in squadrons forth they goe". The concept of football teams is mentioned by English Poet Edmund Waller in c1624: He mentions a "a sort [i.e. company] of lusty shepherds try their force at football, care of victory...They ply their feet, and still the restless ball, Toss'd to and fro, is urged by them all [ [http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/1/2/3/2/12322/12322.htm Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham / ] ] ". The last line suggests that playing as a team emerged much earlier in English football than previously thought.

Football continued to be outlawed in English cities, for example the Manchester Lete Roll contains a resolution, dated 12 October 1608: "That whereas there hath been heretofore great disorder in our towne of Manchester, and the inhabitants thereof greatly wronged and charged with makinge and amendinge of their glasse windows broken yearlye and spoyled by a companye of lewd and disordered psons vsing that unlawfull exercise of playinge with the ffote-ball in ye streets of ye sd toune breakinge many men's windowes and glasse at their plesures and other great enormyties. Therefore, wee of this jurye doe order that no manner of psons hereafter shall play or use the footeball in any street within the said toune of Manchester, subpœnd to evye one that shall so use the same for evye time xiid".

Although football was frequently outlawed in England, it remained popular even with the ruling classes. For example, during the reign of King James I of England James Howellmentions how Lord Willoughby and Lord Sunderland enjoyed playing football, for example :"Lord Willoughby, and he, with so many of their servants ... play'd a match at foot- ball against such a number of Countrymen, where my Lord of Sunderland being busy about the ball, got a bruise in the breast [http://ia311517.us.archive.org/3/items/howellsletters00howeuoft/howellsletters00howeuoft_djvu.txt] [The Familiar Lêtters of James Howell ]

Football continued to be popular throughout seventeenth century England. For example in 1634 Davenant is quoted (in Hones Table-Book) as remarking, "I would now make a safe retreat, but methinks Jam stopped by one of your heroic gamea called football; which I conceive (under your favor) not very conveniently civil in the streets, especially in such irregular and narrow roads as Crooked Lane. Yet it argues your courage, much like your military pastime of throwing at cocks, since you have long allowed these two valiant exercises in the streets". Similarly in 1638 Thomas Randolph suggests this in the following lines from one of his plays: "Madam, you may in time bring down his legs To the just size, now overgrown with playing Too much at foot-ball". [The Muse's Looking Glass' (1638), IV. ii.]

In 1660 comes the first objective study of football, given in Francis Willughby's Book of Sports [http://books.google.co.uk/books?vid=ISBN1859284604&id=P-io9DcBllkC&pg=PA168&lpg=PA168&vq=football&dq=willughby+book+of+sports&sig=qfpFofLjtqtwe0Y13Av4KZHvSA8] , written in about 1660. This account is particularly noteworthy as he refers to football by its correct name and is the first to describe the following: goals and a pitch ("a close that has a gate at either end. The gates are called Goals"), tactics ("leaving some of their best players to guard the goal"), scoring ("they that can strike the ball through their opponents' goal first win") and the way teams were selected ("the players being equally divided according to their strength and nimbleness"). He is the first to describe a law of football: "They often break one another's shins when two meet and strike both together against the ball, and therefore there is a law that they must not strike higher than the ball". His book includes the first (basic) diagram illustrating a modern football pitch.

Football continued to be played in the later seventeenth century, even in cities such as London. The great diarist Samuel Pepys, for example, states in 1665 that in a London street "the streete being full of footballs" [http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/4/2/0/4200/4200.txt] .

1800–1870: Early rules

Football continued to be played in England throughout the nineteenth century. For example, in 1838 a thirteen year old boy James Mills of Hamer Bottom near Rochdale "had his leg broken in three places while playing at football" [The guardian newspaper, 6 January 1838] His leg had to be amputated. In 1844 football was evidently still popular in london. An advertisement in the Guardian newspaper for 14 December states: "Wanted immediately a field for football in the neighbourhood of London Road or Oxford Street". In 1845 an interesting reference from Darwen, Lancashire shows how football was popular among English factory workers: "A stranger passing through it at noon time may see a number of young men and boys dressed in Fustian engaged in the favourite sport of football" [The Guardian 4 January 1845] .

England was the first country in the world to develop codified football, coming about from a desire of its various public schools to compete against each other. Previously, each school had its own rules, which may have dated back to the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. The first attempts to come up with single codes probably began in the 1840s, with various meetings between school representatives attempting to come up with a set of rules with which all would be happy. The first attempt was The Cambridge Rules, created in 1848; others developed their own sets, most notably Sheffield F.C. (1855) and J.C. Thring (1862) [http://www.the-english-football-archive.com/laws/thring_rules.htm] . These were moulded into one set in 1863 when the Football Association was formed; though some clubs continued to play under the Sheffield Rules until 1878, and others dissented to form Rugby Union instead.

The 1863 rules of the Football Association provides the first reference in the English Language to the verb to "pass" a ball.

C. W. Alcock became the first footballer ever to be ruled off side on 31 March 1866, confirming that players were probing ways of exploiting the new off side rule right from the start [ [http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/corshamref/sub/offhist.htm Offside History ] ] . The offside rule was introduced in 1866 into the Football Association rules. It was almost identical to the one that had been part of the Cambridge Rules.

The early Sheffield Rules were particularly important as their offside system allowed poaching or sneaking and thus demonstrated the use of the forward pass: Players known as "kick throughs" were positioned permanently near the opponents goal to receive these balls. According to C.W. Alcock the Sheffield style gave birth to the modern passing game. The later included both crossbars and half time and free kicks were introduced to their code in 1866.

1870–1888: The FA Cup and professionalism

The FA Cup was the first nationally organized competition. A knockout cup, it began 1871, with the first winners being the Wanderers. In those days professionalism was banned, and the cup was dominated by service teams or old schoolboys' teams (such as Old Etonians). The Scottish Football Association split from the FA in 1873.

In the early 1870s the modern team passing game was invented by the Royal Engineers A.F.C. This was the predecessor to the current passing, defensive game was known as the Combination Game and was spread around the world by British expatriots.

England was home to the first unofficial international football matches starting in 1870 which consisted of a series of four matches between representatives of England and Scotland at The Oval, London. Englishman C. W. Alcock was responsible for instigating the world's first "official" football international in Glasgow on 30 November 1872. This match was played under the Football Association rules and was drawn, however, the following year England became the first team in the world to win an international football match when they beat Scotland in London.

This period in English football was dominated by conflict between those who supported professionalism, and those who wanted the game to remain amateur. Clubs in Scotland and Northern England generally supported a professional game, as the working class of these regions could not afford to miss work in order to play football. In Southern England, the game was more popular with the middle class, who supported "Corinthian" values of amateurism. A number of clubs, such as Blackburn Rovers and Darwen were accused of employing professionals, and the FA eventually legalized the practice in 1885, in order to avoid a split.

1888–1915: Aston Villa found the Football League and become the team to beat

The new professionals needed more regular competitive football in which they could compete, which led to the creation of the Football League in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor. This was dominated by those clubs who had supported professionalism, and the twelve founding members consisted of six from Lancashire (Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers, Accrington, Everton and Preston North End) and six from the Midlands (Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers). No sides from the South or London initially participated.

Preston North End won the first ever Football League championship without losing any of their 22 fixtures, and won the FA Cup to complete the double. They retained their league title the following year but by the turn of the 20th century they had been eclipsed by Aston Villa, who had emulated Preston's double success in 1897. Other Midlands sides, such as Wolves (1893 FA Cup winners) and West Bromwich Albion (1888 & 1892 FA Cup winners) were also successful during this era, as were Blackburn Rovers, who won five FA Cups in the 1880s and 1890s.

In 1892, a new Division Two was added, taking in more clubs from around the country; Woolwich Arsenal became the first League club from the capital in 1893; they were also joined by Liverpool the same year. By 1898, both divisions had been expanded to eighteen clubs. Other rival leagues on a local basis were being eclipsed by the Football League, though both the Northern League and the Southern League - who provided the only ever non-league FA Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur in 1901 - remained competitors in the pre-World War I era.

At the turn of the century, clubs from Sheffield were particularly successful, with Sheffield United winning a title and two FA Cups, as well as losing to Tottenham in the 1901 final; meanwhile The Wednesday (later Sheffield Wednesday) won two titles and two FA Cups, despite being relegated in 1899 they were promoted the following year. Clubs in Tyne and Wear were also at the forefront; Sunderland had won four titles between 1892 and 1902, and in the following decade Newcastle United won the title three titles, in 1905, 1907 and 1909, and reached five FA Cup finals in seven years between 1905 and 1911, winning just the one, however. In addition Bury managed a 6-0 win over Derby County in the 1903 FA Cup Final, a record scoreline that stands to this day.

During the first decade of the 20th century, Manchester City looked to be emerging as England's top side after winning the FA Cup for the first time in 1904, but it was soon revealed that the club had been involved in financial irregularities, which included paying £6 or £7 a week in wages to players when the national wage limit was £4 per week. The authorities were furious and rebuked the club, dismissing five of its directors and banning four of its players from ever turning out for the club again.

Instead, it was City's neighbours United who were the more successful during the early 20th century. They reached the First Division in 1906 and were crowned league champions two years later. The following year, 1909, they won the FA Cup and they added another league championship in 1911. A decline set in, however, and there would be no major trophies for the red half of Manchester for the next 37 years. Further domination of the game by clubs from the north-west came in the shape of Liverpool, who won two league titles in 1901 and 1906, and Everton, who won the FA Cup in 1906. And in the run-up to World War I, Blackburn Rovers recorded two league titles 1912 and 1914, before hostilities meant professional football was suspended.

Clubs from the South fared poorly in comparison, though in 1904 Woolwich Arsenal became the first club from London to be promoted to the First Division, while a slew of clubs from the capital joined the League (including Clapton Orient, Chelsea, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, making it a properly nationwide competition; both Chelsea and Spurs quickly gained promotion to the top flight as well.

On the international scene, the Home Nations continued to play each other, with Scotland the slightly more successful of the fourFact|date=February 2007. When the countries combined to play as Great Britain in the Olympic Games they were unbeatable, winning all three pre-World War I football gold medals. England played their first games against teams outside of the British Isles in 1908Fact|date=June 2008.

1919–1939: Inter-war years

From 1920 to 1923 the Football League expanded further, gaining a new Third Division (expanding quickly to Division Three South and Division Three North), with all leagues now containing 22 clubs, making 88 in total. In addition, in 1923 Wembley Stadium opened, and hosted its first Cup final, between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United, known today as the "White Horse Final"; Bolton won 2-0.

During the interwar years, Arsenal and Everton were the two most dominant sides in English football, although Huddersfield Town did make history in 1926 by becoming the first team to complete a hat-trick of successive league titles. Arsenal would do the same in 1935.

Everton had hit the headlines in 1928 by winning the league championship thanks largely to the record breaking 60 league goals of 21-year-old centre-forward Dixie Dean. He was helped by the new rules of the 1920s, including the allowing of goals from a corner kick, and the relaxing of the offside rule. Everton also won the league twice more, in 1932 and 1939, and the FA Cup in 1933. Their neighbours Liverpool had earlier won back-to-back titles in 1922 and 1923, but were unable to sustain this success.

Huddersfield Town and Arsenal's successes were largely down to manager Herbert Chapman, who first managed Huddersfield in their first two championship seasons in 1923-24 and 1924-25, before accepting the offer to manage Arsenal. With Arsenal, he won the FA Cup once and the League twice in the 1930s, before his sudden death during what would be a third title-winning season in 1933-34. Arsenal went on to win the title twice more during the 1930s, as well as another FA Cup.

Sheffield Wednesday were also successful during the 1930s, winning the 1929-30 title, the FA Cup in 1935 and finishing in the top three in all but one season in the period 1930-36. In addition, it was during this time that a Welsh side won the FA Cup for the first and only time; Cardiff City beating Arsenal 1-0 in the 1927 Final.

The national team remained strong, but lost their first game to a non-British Isles country in 1929 (against Spain in Madrid) and refused to compete in the initial World Cups.

1945–1959: The end of English dominance

In the immediate post-war years, Arsenal won another two titles and an FA Cup but after the second title win in 1953, began to fade considerably and would not win another trophy for nearly 20 years. Liverpool won a league title as well, but suffered an even more miserable fate and were relegated to the Second Division in 1954. Portsmouth were also successful; having won the FA Cup in the last season before the war, they won two titles in a row in 1948-49 and 1949-50, but like Liverpool they were relegated by the time the decade was out.

Manchester United re-emerged as a footballing force under new manager Matt Busby. They won the FA Cup in 1948 and the league title in 1952, the first in the club's history. The "Busby Babes", so called as the players were all young, rising through the club's youth system, developed as one of England's finest teams ever, with the likes of Bobby Charlton, Albert Scanlon and Duncan Edwards winning two further titles in 1956 and 1957. But the Munich air disaster on 6 February 1958 resulted in the deaths of eight players (including Edwards) and ended the careers of two others, while Busby survived with serious injuries. He built a new United side with a mix of young players, Munich survivors and new signings, and five years later his rebuilding programme paid off with FA Cup glory.

The other dominant team of the era was Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves, who had previously spent most of the interwar period in the lower divisions, won two league titles and two FA Cups under manager Stan Cullis and captain Billy Wright. Other Midlands sides also enjoyed success after a barren period, including West Bromwich Albion's FA Cup win in 1954 (their first trophy in 23 years) and Aston Villa matching them with a Cup win in 1957 (their first in 37 years). In addition, in 1951 Tottenham Hotspur became the first team in English football to win the league title immediately after being promoted, and Chelsea won their first and only league title of the 20th century in 1955.

One of the most memorable matches of the era was when Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3 in the 1953 FA Cup Final, in a match that came to be known as the "Matthews Final", for Blackpool's mercurial winger Stanley Matthews, even though it was Stan Mortensen who scored a hat-trick that day; it remains Blackpool's only major honour.

English football as a whole, however, began to suffer at this time, with tactical naivety setting in. The national team were humiliated at their first World Cup in 1950, famously losing to the USA 1-0. This was followed by two defeats in 1953 to Hungary, who destroyed England 6-3 at home, the first time England had lost at home to a non-British Isles team, and 7-1 in Budapest, England's biggest ever defeat. The early European club competitions also went without much English success, with the FA initially unwilling to allow clubs to compete. No English team reached a European Cup final until 1968, which was the same year that England got their first Fairs Cup success; although English teams Birmingham City (twice) and a London XI had reached the first three finals of the competition in its formative days.

Great players who rose to prominence during the 1950s include Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Bobby Robson, Norman Deeley, Peter Sillett, Danny Blanchflower, Denis Compton and Joe Mercer.

While Edwards and Taylor both lost their lives due to the Munich tragedy, many older players naturally reached the end of their illustrious careers at around the same time. These include Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney, Billy Wright, Stan Mortensen, Bert Williams and Johnny Carey.

Managers who achieved glory in the first 15 years of postwar English football include Matt Busby, Tom Whittaker, Stan Cullis, Ted Drake and Stan Seymour.

1960–1969: Entering the modern era

The end of the 1950s had seen the beginning of the modernization of English football, with the Divisions Three North and South becoming the national Division Three and Division Four in 1958. 1960 saw the introduction of the League Cup (with the first winners being Aston Villa), whilst Matt Busby rebuilt his Manchester United team into a second Busby Babes, starring George Best. Meanwhile, past giants like Wolves started to decline, with relegation eventually coming in 1965.

It was Tottenham Hotspur who became the dominant force in English football in the early 1960s, winning the elusive double of the League and FA Cup in 1961, retaining the cup in 1962 and becoming the first British team to win a European trophy, after their 5-1 victory over Atlético Madrid in the 1963 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final. Fellow London side West Ham United were also successful, with the England trio of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters helping them win the 1964 FA Cup and the 1965 Cup Winners' Cup.

The English national side showed signs of improving with Alf Ramsey taking over as head coach following a respectable quarter final appearance at the 1962 FIFA World Cup. Ramsey confidently predicted that at the next tournament, England would win the trophy, and they did just that.

The 1966 World Cup saw England win the World Cup in a controversial 4-2 victory over West Germany. The three goals scored by Geoff Hurst within 120 minutes, of which some are controversial, are the only hat trick to be achieved in a World Cup final to date. Bobby Moore was the captain on that day, whilst Munich air crash survivor Bobby Charlton also played. The World Cup as a whole was highly successful, with the successes of the North Korea team, the fouls of the Uruguay team, the skill of Eusébio and the famous quote "They think it's all over... it is now" entering England's collective memory.

The period also saw the first English successes in European club football, begun with Manchester United's 4-1 European Cup victory over SL Benfica, and Leeds United's Inter-Cities Fairs Cup victory, both in 1968. Indeed, Leeds' win set off a series of 6 consecutive wins in the competition (which was renamed the UEFA Cup in 1971) for English clubs, with the 1972 final being held between two of them, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

During this time, a number of different teams competed for league and cup success. Manchester City enjoyed success at the same time as their rivals United, winning the First Division title for only the second time in 1968, and the FA Cup the year after that, and a double of the Cup Winners Cup and League Cup in 1970. Leeds' Fairs Cup success was no isolated effort; Don Revie's side also won a League Cup in 1968 and the league title the season after. Liverpool under Bill Shankly had won promotion in 1962 and soon after won the league title in 1964, and again in 1966, with an FA Cup in between; their neighbours Everton meanwhile had similar success but on a smaller scale, taking two league titles in 1963 and 1970, and the FA Cup in 1966.

Players who dominated the English scene during the 1960s include Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves, Francis Lee, Jeff Astle, Gordon Banks and Roger Hunt.

The decade also saw the illustrious careers of many famous older players drawing to a close. These include Danny Blanchflower, Harry Gregg, Dennis Viollet, Norman Deeley, Peter McParland, Noel Cantwell, Bert Trautmann, Jimmy Adamson, Syd Owen, and the 50-year-old Stanley Matthews.

Successful managers of the 1960s include Matt Busby, Bill Nicholson, Harry Catterick, Bill Shankly, Don Revie, Joe Mercer and Ron Greenwood.

1970–1985: The rise of Liverpool

The 1970s was an odd decade in English football, with the national team disappointing. They failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups and only made the second round in 1982. English club sides, however, dominated on the continent. Altogether, in the 1970s, English clubs won eight European titles and lost out in four finals; whilst from 1977 to 1984 English clubs won seven out of eight European Cups.

London clubs were among the success stories of the early 1970s. Bertie Mee's Arsenal had been in the doldrums for much of the past two decades; after suffering two League Cup final defeats in 1968 and 1969 (to Leeds United and Third Division Swindon Town respectively), they finally won silverware with the Fairs Cup in 1970, followed by the League and Cup Double in 1971, making them only the second team of the 20th century to do so. However, Arsenal's success under Mee soon ran dry. Chelsea also enjoyed silverware, claiming the FA Cup in 1970 and the Winners Cup a year later. Tottenham were also successful, with a UEFA Cup and League Cup in 1971 and 1973 respectively,

However, the dominant team in England in this period was Liverpool, winning league titles in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1983. They also collected three European Cups, three FA Cups and four League Cups, under Shankly and his successor Bob Paisley, who retired as manager in 1983. Players such as Emlyn Hughes and Alan Hansen helped Liverpool have a solid and reliable side, whose skill and talent was supported by a strong work ethic and the famous "boot room" identity.

The other notably successful teams of the era were: Nottingham Forest, Everton and Aston Villa. Forest, led by Brian Clough (who had previously won the title with Derby County), who won a league championship followed by two European Cups, and a League Cup. Everton took the title twice in the mid 80s, as well as an FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup, but were denied the opportunity of pressing on for European Cup success by the Heysel ban. Aston Villa had bounced back from relegation to the Third Division in 1970, winning promotion to the top flight in 1975 and a League Cup the same year, and again in 1977. They went on to win the 1981 league title and the year after won the European Cup, becoming the fourth English club to do so, beating Bayern Munich 1-0 in Rotterdam.

Leeds had initially built on their success, winning an FA Cup in 1972 and the league title in 1973-74. However, after Don Revie left for England in 1974, they won no more trophies and were relegated in 1982. Another side successful in the early 70s, Arsenal, had little to shout about until they played a trio of Cup Finals between 1978 and 1980, only winning the one, in 1979, 3-2 against Manchester United. Fellow London side West Ham United beat them in the following year's final, to add to the Cup they won in 1975. After relegation in 1977, Tottenham bounced back and were resurgent in this period, winning the FA Cup twice and the UEFA Cup in 1974.

Other clubs did not fare as well in the 1970s; Manchester United began to decline that eventually saw them relegated in 1974. However, they were promoted back the following season, and reached three cup finals in four years (1976, 1977 and 1979), though they only won the 1977 final. United went on to finish second twice during the 1980s and won another FA Cup in 1983, but were as yet unable to consistently win silverware. On the other hand, their neighbours City struggled in the early 1980s; after reaching the 1981 Cup Final, they declined rapidly and were relegated in 1983, in spite of infamously heavy spending on players who rarely lived up to their price tags.

Meanwhile, Chelsea were also going through a turbulent time, with financial problems and the loss of key players meaning they spent most of 1970s and 1980s bouncing between the First and Second Divisions. In 1983, they only narrowly avoided relegation to the Third Division, but were promoted the following year.

Wolves, who had arguably been the best team of the 1950s and were still a reasonable force in 1980 (when they finished sixth and won the League Cup), suffered a spectacular decline which began in 1984 and ended in 1986 with three successive relegations that saw them in the Fourth Division for the first time. They were not alone in suffering a relegation hat-trick; Bristol City had completed the first such humiliation in 1982.

Wolves were one of several once-great sides to endure a decline during the 1970s and early 1980s. Huddersfield Town (who complete the first league title hat-trick during the 1920s) were relegated from the First Division in 1971 and fell into the Fourth Division in 1975, not winning promotion until 1980. Portsmouth (league champions in 1949 and 1950) fell into the Fourth Division in 1978 as an almost bankrupt side, but climbed out of it in 1980 and within five years were in the hunt for a First Division comeback. Derby County were league champions in 1972 and 1975, but a rapid decline saw them fall into the Second Division in 1980 and the Third Division in 1984.

The period was also marked by some surprise FA Cup wins by lower-division teams over top-flight sides; these included Sunderland (beating Leeds United in 1973), Southampton (beating Manchester United in 1976) and West Ham United (beating Arsenal in 1980). Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town were another successful smaller club, winning the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981.

During this period transfer fees began to rise rapidly as more money entered the game; Trevor Francis became Britain's first million-pound rated footballer in 1979. 1979 also saw the formation of the Football Conference. This was the first national league to develop below the Football League, and was the beginning of a formalisation of the English football pyramid. The first seven Conference champions failed to gain election to the Football League, but in 1986 it was decided that the following year's champions would be automatically promoted to the league to replace the Fourth Division's bottom side....

The re-election system saw Cambridge United elected to the league in 1970, Hereford United in 1972, Wimbledon in 1977 and Wigan Athletic in 1978. Cambridge reached the Second Division in 1978 and were a competent side at this level for five seasons before a terrible decline saw them fall back into the Fourth Division in 1985. Hereford reached the Second Division after just four years of league membership, only to endure back-to-back relegations which pushed them back into the Fourth Division in 1978. Wimbledon's first two promotions from the Fourth Division ended in relegation after just one season, but by 1984 they had reached the Second Division and their biggest successes were yet to come.

Players who dominated the English scene during the 1970s and early 1980s include Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Peter Shilton, Bryan Robson, John Wark, Liam Brady, Steve Perryman, Glenn Hoddle and Alan Hansen.

Older players whose careers finished during this time include Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves, Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Emlyn Hughes, Gordon Banks and Alex Stepney.

Successful managers of this era include Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Don Revie, John Lyall, Brian Clough, Ron Saunders, Ron Atkinson, Bobby Robson and Keith Burkinshaw.

1985–1992: Heysel and Hillsborough

During the 1970s and 1980s, the spectre of hooliganism had begun to haunt English football. The Heysel Stadium disaster was the epitome of this, with English hooligans mixing with poor policing and an old stadium to cause the deaths of 39 Juventus fans during the 1985 European Cup final. This led to English teams being banned from European football for five years, and Liverpool - the club involved - being banned for six.

Even when English teams were re-admitted, it was not until 1995 that they regained all of their lost places. And it took a while for English teams to re-establish themselves in Europe. Although Manchester United won the European Cup Winners' Cup in the first season after the ban was lifted, the European Cup was not won by an English club until 1999 - 15 years after the last triumph.

The Hillsborough disaster, which also involved Liverpool, though not related to hooliganism but caused by bad policing, an old stadium and anti-hooligan fences led to 94 deaths and more than 300 injuries. The final death toll was 96. These two tragedies led to a modernization of English football and English grounds. Efforts were made to remove hooligans from English football, whilst the Taylor Report led to the grounds of all top level clubs becoming all-seater.

On the field, Liverpool's domination was coming to an end; it also saw the culmination of the phenomenal rise of Wimbledon, who rose from the Fourth Division to the First in just four seasons, before finishing sixth in their inaugural season in the top flight and beating Liverpool 1-0 in the 1988 FA Cup final, one of the competition's biggest shocks. Another team to make an improbably quick rise from Fourth to First Divisions was Swansea City, who had climbed three divisions between 1977 and 1981. They finished sixth in their first top division campaign, but were relegated the following year and in 1986 fell back into the Fourth Division.

A number of other small clubs achieved success at this time. Charlton Athletic, who were forced to leave The Valley and ground-share with West Ham for safety reasons in 1985, won promotion to the First Division in 1986 after an exile of nearly 30 years. They defied the odds by remaining at this level until their luck finally ran out and they were relegated in 1990. Norwich City went down to the Second Division in 1985 but that blow was cushioned by a League Cup triumph. They returned to the top flight a year later and finished fifth on their comeback, also coming fourth and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals in 1989. They reached another FA Cup semi-final in 1992. Oxford United, who had only joined the Football League in 1962, reached the First Division in 1985 and lifted the League Cup the following season. They went back down again in 1988, the same year that Middlesbrough reached the First Division a mere two seasons after almost going out of business.

Many fallen giants fell on hard times during the later part of the 1980s. Burnley and Preston North End (both Football League founders with five league titles between them), were relegated to the Fourth Division in 1985. Preston were promoted back to the Third Division in 1987, but that year saw Burnley narrowly avoid becoming the first team to suffer automatic relegation to the Conference (that humiliation was endured by Lincoln City instead) and it was not until 1992 that Burnley won promotion from the basement division.

One fallen giant to enjoy something of a resurgence in this era was Derby County. They had been relegated to the Third Division in 1984, just nine years after being league champions, but back-to-back promotions saw them back in the First Division in 1987. They emerged as surprise title contenders in 1988-89 and finished fifth, only missing out on a UEFA Cup place due to the ban on English clubs in European competition. But Derby were unable to sustain their run of success, and went down to the Second Division in 1991.

In 1986, Wolverhampton Wanderers fell into the Fourth Division for the first time in their history, and became only the second English team to endure three successive relegations. By 1989, they had won promotion to the Second Division almost single-handedly thanks to the goalscoring exploits of striker Steve Bull, who became the first English footballer to score 50 or more competitive goals in successive seasons. Local businessman Jack Hayward took the club over in 1990, and declared his ambition to restore Wolves as a major footballing force.

Bolton Wanderers, four times FA Cup winners, were relegated to the Fourth Division in 1987, the same year that Sunderland fell into the Third Division for the first time in their history. Both teams, however, won promotion at the first attempt.

With Liverpool's fortunes waning, George Graham's Arsenal started to win trophies again, with a League Cup in 1987 and two league titles, in 1989 and 1991, the former being won in the final minute of the final game of the season against title rivals Liverpool, with young midfielder Michael Thomas scoring the crucial goal. Arsenal would go on to be the first side to pick up the Cup Double in 1993, and followed it with a Cup Winners' Cup the year after.

Arsenal's neighbours Tottenham were also successful, winning the FA Cup in 1990-91, with midfielder Paul Gascoigne proving the hero in the semi-finals against Arsenal before injuring himself in the final against Nottingham Forest. Tottenham bought Barcelona's high-scoring England striker Gary Lineker in 1989, and he continued his excellent form over three years at the club before leaving to finish his career in Japan.

Leeds had finally won promotion back to the top flight in 1990 and under Howard Wilkinson they won the 1991-92 league title. Wilkinson is still the most recent manager to win the league championship. However, the departure of Eric Cantona to Manchester United, amongst other factors, meant they were unable to make a regular challenge for the title following the creation of the Premier League.

England's national team under Bobby Robson also enjoyed success, losing controversially to Argentina in the 1986 World Cup and unluckily on penalties to Germany in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup, eventually finishing fourth. This success for the national team, and the gradually improving grounds, helped to reinvigorate football's popularity. Attendances rose from the late 1980s and continued to do so as football moved into the business era.

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the emergence of numerous young players who went on to reach great heights in the game. These include Paul Gascoigne, David Platt, Matt Le Tissier, Lee Sharpe, Ryan Giggs and Paul Merson.

Established great players who were still playing the top in the early 1990s include Ian Rush, Peter Beardsley, Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Neville Southall and Ray Wilkins.

This era also saw many famous names hanging up their boots after long and illustrious careers. These include Ray Clemence, Gary Bailey, Alan Hansen, Craig Johnston, Norman Whiteside, Andy Gray and Billy Bonds.

Successful managers of this era include Kenny Dalglish, George Graham, Howard Kendall, Howard Wilkinson, Alex Ferguson, Bobby Gould, John Lyall, Jim Smith, Maurice Evans and Dave Bassett.

1992–1999: The Premier League and Sky Television

The FA Premier League was formed in 1992 when the top twenty two clubs in English football broke away from the football league, in order to increase their incomes and make themselves more competitive on a European stage. By selling TV rights separately to the football league, the clubs increased their income and exposure. The Premier League became the top level of English football, and Division One (later renamed the Football League Championship) fell to the second level.

Manchester United were the first Premiership winners, their first title in 26 years, and under Alex Ferguson, they dominated English football during the 1990s, winning five league titles (including two doubles), one League Cup, one Cup Winners' Cup and, in 1999, a unique treble: the FA Cup, League and Champions League all in one season. Their success was made even more remarkable by the high number of players who came up simultaneously through their youth system, including brothers Gary and Philip Neville, Paul Scholes and David Beckham. This success spilled over into the 2000s, as they won three league titles in four years.

United's main challengers for the title in the Premier League's first few years were Blackburn Rovers, led by star striker Alan Shearer, also won their first league title since World War I in 1994-95, and Newcastle United, who famously conceded a 10-point lead at Christmas to lose the title to United in 1995-96. Newcastle had reached the Premiership in 1993 as Division One champions, and in their first Premiership campaign finished third to qualify for the UEFA Cup. They finished second in 1996 and again in 1997, but by the end of the decade had wallowed away to mid table.

Blackburn failed to sustain their success after the 1995 title triumph, and in 1999 they were relegated to Division One.

A number of other teams challenged for the title in the early Premiership years. Aston Villa finished second in 1993, but declined over the next two seasons (despite a League Cup victory in 1994). They enjoyed a revival in 1996, winning the League Cup and finishing fourth in the Premiership, and by 1999 had qualified for the UEFA Cup five times in seven seasons, though their continental form had been unconvincing. Norwich City were surprise title contenders in 1992-93 under new manager Mike Walker, leading the table at several stages before finishing third - and doing so entered the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history. They achieved a shock win over Bayern Munich before being eliminated by Inter Milan, but were unable to keep up their good progress and in 1995 fell into Division One. By the end of the decade, they had yet to make a Premiership comeback.

Many teams that had succeed in the 1970s and 1980s did not fare as well in the Premiership. Liverpool were unable to dominate the decade as they had done in the 70s and 80s; after their 1990 title win, their only other trophies of the decade were the FA Cup in 1992 and the League Cup in 1995. Everton fared no better, although they won the FA Cup in 1995, beating Manchester United, they were continually involved in relegation battles throughout the decade. Manchester City also fought relegation, but lost, slipping into the Division One in 1996 and Division Two in 1998. But two successive promotions saw them back in the Premiership for the 2000-01 season. Nottingham Forest were relegated from the Premier League three times, in 1993, 1997 and 1999, and unlike City have yet to return.

Arsenal began the Premier League with moderate league form (a shortage of goals restricting them to 10th place) but excellent form in the cups, as they became the first English team to win both domestic cups in the same season - beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in both finals. They won the Cup Winners' Cup a year later, but manager George Graham was sacked the following February after admitting to receiving a "bung" when signing Danish midfielder John Jensen in 1992. They reached the Cup Winners' Cup final for the second year running under temporary manager Stewart Houston, but finished 12th in the Premiership. They reached fifth the following season under new manager Bruce Rioch, who was sacked for a dispute with the directors soon afterwards and replaced by Frenchman Arsene Wenger. Under Wenger, they won the double in 1998 to become only the second team in English football to repeat this triumph - though, unlike Manchester United two years earlier, with an entirely different set of players.

English football grew wealthier and more popular than ever before, with clubs spending tens of millions of pounds on players and on their wages, which rose to over £100,000 a week for the top stars. This also made it harder for promoted clubs to establish themselves at the top flight. In 1993, newly promoted Middlesbrough lost their top flight status after just one season, while Blackburn finished fourth and Ipswich finished 16th (having occupied fourth place in February). In 1994, newly-promoted Swindon went down after winning just five games all season and conceding 100 goals. Newcastle, meanwhile, qualified for the UEFA Cup in third place and West Ham achieved a respectable 13th place finish. In 1995, newly-promoted Nottingham Forest matched Newcastle's success by coming third and qualifying for the UEFA Cup, while Crystal Palace and Leicester City went straight back down. In 1996, newly-promoted Bolton Wanderers went straight back down, while Middlesbrough attained a secure 12th place (they would have finished even higher had it not been for a dismal mid-season run of form which saw them endure 10 defeats from 11 games). In 1997, newly-promoted Leicester City finished ninth and won the League Cup, while Derby County finished 12th, but Sunderland went straight back down. In 1998, all three newly-promoted teams - Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley and Crystal Palace - were relegated straight back to Division One. In 1999, Middlesbrough attained an impressive ninth place finish, but Charlton Athletic and Nottingham Forest were relegated.

The Premier League was decreased from 22 to 20 clubs in 1995.

The national team over this period varied in their success, failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup but reaching the semi-finals in Euro 96, losing on penalties to Germany at the semi-final stage. They also achieved automatic qualification for the 1998 World Cup, losing to Argentina on penalties in the Second Round. Manager Graham Taylor had quit in November 1993 after failing to attain a World Cup place, and his successor Terry Venables left after the encouraging Euro 96 campaign due to off-the-field disputes. His successor Glenn Hoddle took England to the World Cup, but was fired the following February after a controversial newspaper interview in which he suggested that disabled people were being punished for sins in a previous life. His successor Kevin Keegan achieved the task of attaining qualification for Euro 2000.

The trend for clubs to relocate to new stadiums accelerated throughout the 1990s. By the end of the decade, Walsall, Chester City, Milwall, Huddersfield Town, Northampton Town, Middlesbrough, Derby County, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers, Stoke City, Reading and Wigan Athletic had all moved to new stadiums, and several other clubs were planning to relocate. This was due to the requirement that all Premier League and Division One stadiums had to have all-seater stadiums by the start of the 1994-95 season, although standing accommodation was still permitted at Division Two and Three stadiums, as well as non-league venues.

Prominent footballers who emerged during the 1990s include Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Sol Campbell, Chris Sutton, Robbie Fowler, Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand.

As well as British and Irish talent, there were numerous foreign imports to the English game during the decade who went on to achieve stardom with English clubs. These include Eric Cantona, Jurgen Klinsmann, Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola] , Patrick Vieira and Peter Schmeichel.

Many experienced players whose careers began during the 1980s were still playing at the highest level as the 1990s drew to a close. These include David Seaman, Tony Adams, Gary Pallister, Colin Hendry, Paul Ince, Alan Shearer and Mark Hughes.

The decade also saw the illustrious careers of numerous legendary players draw to a close. These include Bryan Robson, Gordon Strachan, Ian Rush, Peter Beardsley, Steve Bruce, John Barnes and Peter Shilton.

Successful managers of this era include Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish, Arsene Wenger, Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli, George Graham, Joe Royle, Frank Clark, Brian Little and Martin O'Neill.

2000–present: Financial polarization

In England, as in Europe in general, the early 2000s saw the financial bubble burst, with the collapse of ITV Digital in May 2002 leaving a hole in the pockets of the Football League clubs who had relied on their television money to maintain high wages. Although no football league teams collapsed (no team has done so since Maidstone United in 1992), many entered administration, including Leicester City and Bradford City. From the 2004-05, administration for any Premier League or Football League club would mean a 10-point deduction. Most of the non-league divisions adopted a similar penalty.

Another club that faced financial ruin was Leeds United; having reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2000-01 they looked set for dominance on the domestic and European scene, but after failing to qualify for the competition the following season, they were unable to cover the loans they had taken out to fund their spending. They were forced to sell their ground (and lease it back) and many of their best players. They were relegated at the end of the 2003-04 season and three years later slipped into the league's third tier for the first time in their history, although their debts have since been substantially reduced.

At the same time, the country's richest clubs continued to grow, with the wages of top players increasing further.

Manchester United's outstanding success has continued, though to a slightly lesser degree than the success they had previously enjoyed. Arsenal won a third Double in 2002 and clinched the title in 2004 without losing a single league game all season. In 2003 and 2005, when they missed out on the title, they had the FA Cup as compensation. United still managed to win another FA Cup in 2004 and the League Cup in 2006, as well as league titles in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2007. Chelsea's success continued to grow, with Roman Abramovich - a Russian oligarch - purchasing Chelsea in a £150m takeover in 2003. Abramovich, whose move to England made him the country's richest man (he has since been overtaken), made substantial transfer funds available to manager Claudio Ranieri. After finishing second in 2004, Chelsea won the League Cup and league title under Ranieri's replacement José Mourinho in 2005, and another title in 2006.

While unable to challenge for the league title, Liverpool achieved success in other competitions, including a treble of League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001. Another League Cup followed in 2003, but the biggest triumph of the decade so far was a Champions League win in 2005, with a memorable comeback from 3-0 down against AC Milan in the final; Liverpool became the second club since the Heysel ban to take the trophy. The season after Liverpool won the FA Cup, winning on penalties after drawing 3-3 with newly-promoted West Ham United. Tottenham Hotspur have also resurged under new manager Martin Jol, narrowly missing out on a Champions League place in 2006 after finishing fifth.

The England national team during this time became managed by a non-English national for the first time in their history when Sven-Göran Eriksson took charge. He achieved respectable results in international tournaments, going out to eventual winners Brazil in the 2002 World Cup, hosts Portugal in Euro 2004, and Portugal once again on penalties in the 2006 World Cup having reached the quarter-finals. Arguably due to pressure over the lack of actual victories in major tournaments, Eriksson announced his resignation prior to the 2006 World Cup. Steve McClaren was selected by the FA as his replacement, and took over as manager on 1 August 2006, on a 4-year contract. England's failure to qualify for the 2008 European Championships led to McClaren being sacked on 22 November 2007, after only 16 months in charge. He has been replaced but Italian Fabio Capello.

2006-07 has seen Manchester United establish a comfortable lead at the top of the Premiership, with Chelsea in close contention. The likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton are competing for the remaining European places. West Ham have endured a surprisingly difficult season which saw manager Alan Pardew sacked six months after guiding them to their first FA Cup final in 26 years, his successor being Alan Curbishley (who had quit Charlton Athletic the previous summer after 15 years in charge). Charlton have also struggled since Curbishley's departure, his successor Iain Dowie lasting a mere five months at the helm before being axed in favour of Alan Pardew.

The big news in the Championship has been the surprise emergence of Colchester United as playoff place challengers, as many observers had written them off as relegation certainties before the start of their first season at this level. Their 10th place finish in 2006-07 wasn't quite enough for a playoff place. The promotion places that season went to champions Sunderland, runners-up Birmingham City and playoff winners Derby County. Sunderland's success was the most spectacular. They had been taken over by former Niall Quinn just before the start of the season, and he had installed himself as chairman-manager. Sunderland lost their opening four league games of the season, sparking fears of a second successive relegation. By the end of August, however, Quinn had handed over managerial duties to his former Ireland team-mate Roy Keane. Sunderland's form improved dramatically, and they clinched the title on the final day of the season.

In League One, Scunthorpe United finished champions and gained promotion to the league's second tier after an exile that had lasted more than 40 years. Runners-up Bristol City finally gained promotion after a string of near misses in the eight years since their relegation. Playoff winners Blackpool booked a place in the league's second tier for the first time since the 1970s. Missing out on promotion were Nottingham Forest and Oldham Athletic, whose late season struggles cost them promotion at the end of a season during which they had looked like achieving their first major successes since the 1990s.

In League Two, Walsall gained promotion as champions to ensure that their first basement division campaign in over a decade would last just one season. They were joined in League One by runners-up Hartlepool United, third-placed Swindon Town and playoff winners Bristol Rovers. Going down were Torquay United and financially-troubled Boston United.

In the Conference National, Oxford United got off to a flying start in their first season outside the Football League for 45 years, but a lean mid-season saw them pipped into second place. A 10-match winless won ended in February, but they couldn't catch new leaders Dagenham and Redbridge, and their promotion dream was ended in the playoffs, where Morecambe F.C. triumphed.

Oxford had been relegated to the Conference after losing their final League Two game of the 2005-06 season, making them the first former winners of a major trophy (the 1986 Football League Cup) to be relegated to the Conference. Two years later earlier Carlisle United had become the first former members of the top flight to slip into the Conference, although they regained their Football League status at the first attempt and then won a second successive promotion.

League Two promotion-chasers Wycombe Wanderers achieved an impressive run to the semi-finals of the League Cup, where they gave Chelsea run for their money before bowing out in the second leg. Their league form suffered afterwards, and they finished the season without even a place in the playoffs.

The 2008 UEFA Champions League Final is the first all English club final in European Cup/Champions League history.

Wembley Stadium re-opened for this May's FA Cup final after seven years, with Chelsea beating Manchester United thanks to a Didier Drogba goal.

Star players rising to prominence this era have included Wayne Rooney (Everton, Manchester United and England), Thierry Henry (Arsenal and France), Frank Lampard (Chelsea and England), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool and England) and Joe Cole (West Ham United, Chelsea and England).

Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Sol Campbell are some of the prominent players still active in the game during the 2000s after rising to fame during the 1990s, though Beckham has not played in England since 2003.

Legendary players whose illustrious careers have come to an end during this decade include Alan Shearer, Dennis Bergkamp, Denis Irwin, Paul Ince and Roy Keane.

Successful managers of this era include Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez, Steve McClaren, Alan Curbishley, Sam Allardyce, David O'Leary and Bobby Robson.

ee also

* Timeline of English football
* History of the English football league system


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