Northern Ireland's International Football Team: Successes over the past 10 years

Northern Irish football has enjoyed periods off success, most notably during the mid-1980's when the team was as high as 14th in the world.

Although Northern Ireland have only qualified for three World Cups, they managed to reach get past the first group stages in 1982 but a draw to Austria and a heavy defeat by France saw them eliminated.

NI v Poland

The history of Northern Ireland football

After competing as one country for the period 1882 to 1921, the football team of Northern Ireland came into being after Ireland was spit into North and South Ireland in 1920. South Ireland went on to first become the Irish Free State and then Ireland as we know it today. This led to a separate national team and league structure all under the auspices of the Football Association of Ireland.

North Ireland continued to field teams separate to that of Ireland. A problem arose when players from the region ended up playing internationals for both sides. This lead to FIFA restricting players to one national team based on national borders.

A united Irish team did play in the four World Cup tournaments between 1930 and 1950.

World Cup participation in the 2000's

The Northern Ireland football team has failed to qualify for any of the World Cup tournaments held over the past 13 years in Korea, Germany, South Africa or Brazil.

Although they could not qualify, the team achieved some notably results, none more so than the famous 1-0 victory over England on 7 September 2005 at Windsor Park in Belfast where David Healy scored in the 74 minute. The English team, captained by David Beckham included the like of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.

Another notable victory occurred in the qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Goals by Warren Feeney, Jonny Evans and an own goal by Michał Żewłakow saw Northern Ireland run out 3 - 2 winners against Poland at Windsor Park on 28 March 2009.

Northern Ireland's last major victory in World Cup qualifiers came on 14 August 2013, again at Windsor Park. They beat Russia thanks to the only goal of the game scored by Martin Paterson in the 43rd minute.

European Cup participation in the 2000's

The Northern Ireland football team also failed to qualify for any European Cup tournaments held over the past 15 years in Belgium/Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark/Switzerland and Ukraine/Poland.

Despite many struggles, Northern Ireland have pulled off some stunning victories during qualifying matches. The match supporters will never forget was the 3 - 2 victory over Spanish at Windsor Park on 6 September 2006, a game which David Healy scored a hat trick.

Northern Ireland pulled off two more victories during the Euro 2008 qualifiers beating both Sweden and Denmark by 2 - 1. Again, both victories came at Windsor Park. The team's away form was not as strong and they only ended up finishing 4th in their group.

European Cup qualification 2016

The team is currently involved in the qualification for the 2016 tournament to be held in France.

At the half-way stage of the qualification process, Northern Ireland sit in 2nd position, one point behind log leaders Romania and four ahead of Hungary , in third. In the five matches played so far, they have won seven and lost one. Important away wins were achieved over Hungary and Greece.

Return fixtures against these two teams on 7 September and 8 October will go a long way towards determining Northern Ireland's fate in their quest to qualify for Euro 2016.

Friendly results 2000 - 2015

Northern Ireland has played 42 friendlies since 2000, only winning six, losing 23 with 13 matches resulting in draws. None of the wins came against particularly strong opposition, the biggest was a 4 - 1 thrashing of Georgia. Their biggest loss, a 6 - 0 hammering by the Netherlands occurred in 2012.