Prime Minister Boris Johnson says they fully back the English and Irish FA’s joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup with a reported £2.8 million to kick start the process.
Both Liverpool and Everton will be keen to be apart of such a big event, especially with the Blues planning to have their new stadium on Bramley Moore Dock built by 2024.
Although everybody is so used to seeing the Reds and Blues take the field at Merseyside’s two best stadia, this great city has in fact been host to numerous international games over the years.
From Eusebio lighting up Goodison to England’s very first loss on home soil against a foreign team, we take a look at the five greatest international matches this city has hosted:
5) England 2 vs 1 Uruguay – Anfield, March 1st, 2006.
Just a few months before the 2006 World Cup kicked off in Germany, England hosted Uruguay at Anfield in preparation for the tournament.
Sven-Goran Eriksson bought his ‘golden generation’ of players up to Merseyside due to the ‘new Wembley’ being built at this time. Much was expected of Eriksson’s team in the build-up to the 2006 World Cup.
40,013 people packed into Anfield to watch the national team struggle to break down a relatively poor Uruguay side. It wasn’t until the 90th minute when Joe Cole, who would eventually represent Liverpool at Anfield, converted Shaun Wright-Phillips’ cross to secure the late win for England.
Peter Crouch gave the Liverpool fans in attendance something to cheer when the reds recent acquisition headed in England’s equaliser 15 minutes from time
The spirit of Anfield unfortunately didn’t stay with the England players throughout the rest of 2006, as they were eliminated by Portugal on penalties in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, with local Liverpudlian Wayne Rooney infamously stealing the show for getting sent off for a stamp.
Merseyside hasn’t had the chance to experience an England game ever since this victory, with Anfield being denied the opportunity to host one in 2019 due to it’s ban on a certain tabloid newspaper.
Hopefully it’s not too many years until the people of Merseyside can watch their national side at their beloved club’s stadium again, being Anfield or Goodison.
4) France 0 vs 0 Holland (5-4 pens) – Anfield, June 22nd, 1996.
Hear me out, 0-0 may not sound like a thrilling match which should be included in a list of 5 great matches, but this quarter-final of Euro 96 had some of the world’s greatest players experience Anfield.
France had the solidity and assurance of Didier Deschamps, Laurent Blanc and Zinedine Zidane whereas Holland were full of flair and creativity with players such as Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert and the great Johan Cruyff.
Just four days prior Holland had suffered a damaging 4-1 defeat to hosts England, compared to a French side who had gone 26 matches unbeaten.
It was hyped up to be a tight game between two teams who many saw as favourites to win the European championship.
After 120 minutes of deadlock with both managers in a tactical battle against one another, the game went to a penalty shoot-out.
Laurent Blanc scored the winning penalty from France after Clarence Seedorf was the only player to miss from the spot.
However, the game itself may not be remembered as much as the day. 22nd of June 1996, the day in which Anfield witnessed the most world-class players this historic stadium had ever seen.
3) England 0 vs 2 Ireland – Goodison Park, September 21st, 1949.
You may be wondering what is so significant about a match from 1949. Let me tell you.
Before the 21st of September 1949, England had never suffered defeat against a foreign country on home soil. 77 years after their first international against Scotland, this finally happened.
England were without star man Stanley Matthews, but still fielded a strong side including Preston North End legend Tom Finney. Whereas Ireland only had seven first division players in their line-up.
With the difference in quality on paper along with the fact that England thrashed Ireland 6-2 just a year earlier, very few people thought that the Irish would claim a shocking, historic victory.
A reported 51,047 people attended Goodison Park to watch Ireland pick up the shock 2-0 victory. Goals from Cornelius Martin and Peter Farrell secured the win for the Irish.
This game will forever be in the history books of both Goodison Park and England due to it being the three lions first loss on home soil against a foreign team.
This became two losses to a foreign team on home soil just four years later when the Hungarian team known as the ‘Mighty Magyars’ defeated England 6-3.
2) West Germany 2 – 1 Soviet Union – Goodison Park, July 25th, 1966.
A World Cup semi-final being held in Merseyside, why is this not number one on this list? Because it should’ve been so much better than it was.
The match itself was a dour affair, but the controversy comes from off the pitch. Instead of West Germany vs Soviet Union, Goodison Park was supposed to host the semi-final between England and Portugal.
Many fans had worked out beforehand that England would likely play at Goodison if they reached the semi-final, which created excitement in the city and led to many fans buying tickets in advance,
However, after England secured their place in the semi-final, the FA decided to switch the semi-finals, meaning England vs Portugal would take place at Wembley instead in the hope of greater gate receipts.
This angered many fans wit the Liverpool Daily Post referring to it as the ‘greatest sports betrayal in history’.
Only 38,273 attended the semi-final between USSR and West Germany which was sealed when Franz Beckenbauer scored from 25 yards out.
The anger within the fans was quickly replaced with feelings of happiness though, as we all know what went on to happen in the final of the 1966 World Cup.
- Portugal 5 vs 3 North Korea – Goodison Park, July 23rd, 1966.
In what is considered one of the best World Cup matches ever and maybe the greatest individual display of all time, this World Cup quarter-final is rightfully the best international match Merseyside has ever seen.
North Korea came into the tournament as massive 1,000-1 underdogs and didn’t even book accommodation for after the group stage in anticipation of falling at the first hurdle. However, they shocked the world (and whoever was responsible for booking their accommodation) by eliminating two-time world champions Italy by beating them 1-0 in the final group game.
Their reward? A quarter final matchup with Portugal and the great Eusebio.
Just 25 minutes in the world stood still as Yang Song-Guk gave North Korea a early 3-0 lead. However, Portugal saw their best form of defence as attack, and with Eusebio running that attack anything was possible.
In one of the great all-time individual performances, the Portuguese attacker responded by unbelievably scoring four goals to complete the turnaround, with Portugal eventually winning 5-3.
Although Portugal were knocked out in the semi-final against eventual winners England, this performance by Eusebio will be remembered forever as not only the greatest performance Goodison Park has seen, but as one of the greatest performances the whole footballing world has and will ever see.
With the 2030 World Cup bid officially receiving government backing, we can only hope that in nine years time there will be more to add to this list with the people of Merseyside once again being able to experience some of the worlds greatest players.