***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about three moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Northern Ireland, which has qualified for the World Cup on three occasions, 1958, 1982 and 1986.
The #1 wee country in the world
Nickname: Green and White Army
FIFA Ranking: 58 (August 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Failed to advance from group stage (UEFA) finishing below Switzerland and Italy, ahead of Bulgaria and Lithuania
Let me spin you a wee yarn, alright?
With a population of just 1.8 million, Northern Ireland is the most successful wee team in FIFA World Cup history. It’s also the weeest nation to reach the World Cup knockout rounds (twice) and the weeest team to even win a single World Cup finals match.
With even weeer fellow wee nation Trinidad and Tobago reaching the 2006 World Cup, and then even weeer Iceland getting to the 2018 World Cup, unfortunately for ‘Norn Iron’, it no longer holds the mantle for the weeest wee nation to take part in a World Cup. However with both those wee nations failing to win even a single wee match on each of their respective wee trips to the World Cup, Northern Ireland still remains the most successful wee nation in the history of international football, and fittingly, in the current FIFA Rankings for Wee Nations, they are ranked #1 (at 58th in the FIFA World Rankings, five places above Iceland).
At the 1958 World Cup, Northern Ireland officially became the weeest ever team to reach the World Cup quarter finals after defeating Czechoslovakia by a wee one goal margin and managing a draw against far-from-wee football nation Germany. Twenty four years later, at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, wee Norn Iron went into their final wee group game against the hosts needing a win to advance–no wee challenge, mind–and despite having to play almost the whole of the second half with just a wee 10 men after Gerry Armstrong was sent off, a single wee Mal Donaghy goal gave wee Northern Ireland an anything-but-wee 1-0 victory and consequently a wee ticket to the next round. While they were eliminated at the next hurdle with only a wee point from their next two matches against France and Austria, wee Northern Ireland had once again belied their wee status as a wee nation and proved that they are once again, the world’s premier wee footballing nation.
Aside from their feats at the World Cup, Northern Ireland has also produced one of the greatest players in the wee history of the game. The original rockstar footballer (decades before David Beckham), George Best, born and raised in east Belfast, went on to become 1968 European Footballer of the Year and a wee Manchester United legend, winning multiple two league trophies and a European Cup with the Red Devils. In 2000, he was voted as equal 5th in the FIFA Player of Century award, however, he never represented his homeland at even a single wee major international tournament and his entire career, and particularly his later years, were marred by his struggles with a wee issue known as severe alcoholism and sadly after too many wee years of too many wee pints, being too steamed, and too many nights on the pull, he lost his wee 58-year life in 2005.
Since the glory days of the remarkable 1982 World Cup and George Best putting Norn Iron in the international spotlight for pretty much the first time ever in a positive light, results have been a wee bit disappointing, and although the team did reach the World Cup in Mexico only a wee four years after their ’82 heroics, success since then has been restricted to a famous wee 1-0 defeat of England in 2006 World Cup qualifying, knocking off eventual winners Spain in Euro 2008 qualifying, and managing to reach the European Championships for the first wee time in 2016, where they reached the second round, only to be eliminated by a wee own goal to its fellow wee Home Nation Wales.
Despite the odd moments of not being buck eejits in the European Championship, boys a dear these past 36 years for Northern Ireland in the one that matters, the World Cup. It’s about time for Norn Iron to stop faffing about, because any more of this and there’ll be less of it.
One to watch: That you don’t break butt when competing in Irish road bowling
Watch it!… Watch it!… Because if you’re competing in road bowling–the traditional Irish sport where the objective is to toss an iron ball to the end of a pre-determined road as quickly as possible–whatever you do, don’t break butt! Don’t break butt! Listen to your road shower, and as you leg it in to loft the bullet, hoping to strike the sop, whether you do it in the Northern or County Armagh style, or you fancy the Southern or County Cork style, if you want a bowl of odds, when you shoot, fág a’ bealach and just DON’T BREAK BUTT.
The Highpoint: Second round, 1982 World Cup
You think Republic of Ireland are a bunch of jammie cunts after reaching the quarter finals of the 1990 World Cup or knocking off Italy at the 1994 World Cup? Well that’s nothing compared to the jammie cunts from Northern Ireland, who had a right craic at the 1982 World Cup and defeated the host nation Spain (after playing with 10 men for half the game) on the way to getting out of the group and reaching the second round. Despite finishing with a face like a lourgan spade after ending up last in the second round following a draw with Austria and a loss to France, Spain 1982 was still a great craic, ya cunt.
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