Liverpool Football Club is a professional football club in Liverpool, that competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football. The club has won 5 European Cups, more than any other English club, 3 UEFA Cups, 3 UEFA Super Cups, 18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, a record 8 League Cups, 15 FA Community Shields. Founded in 1892, the club joined the Football League the following year and has played at Anfield since its formation. Liverpool established itself as a major force in English and European football in the 1970s and 1980s when Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley led the club to 11 League titles and seven European trophies. Under the management of Rafael Benítez and captained by Steven Gerrard, Liverpool became European champions for the fifth time in 2005. Liverpool was the ninth highest-earning football club in the world in 2016–17, with an annual revenue of €424.2 million, the world's eighth most valuable football club in 2018, valued at $1.944 billion. The club is one of the best supported teams in the world.
Liverpool has long-standing rivalries with Manchester Everton. The club's supporters have been involved in two major tragedies: the Heysel Stadium disaster, where escaping fans were pressed against a collapsing wall at the 1985 European Cup Final in Brussels, with 39 people – Italians and Juventus fans – dying, after which English clubs were given a five-year ban from European competition, the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, where 96 Liverpool supporters died in a crush against perimeter fencing; the team changed from red shirts and white shorts to an all-red home strip in 1964, used since. The club's anthem is "You'll Never Walk Alone". Liverpool F. C. was founded following a dispute between the Everton committee and John Houlding, club president and owner of the land at Anfield. After eight years at the stadium, Everton relocated to Goodison Park in 1892 and Houlding founded Liverpool F. C. to play at Anfield. Named "Everton F. C. and Athletic Grounds Ltd", the club became Liverpool F. C. in March 1892 and gained official recognition three months after The Football Association refused to recognise the club as Everton.
The team won the Lancashire League in its début season, joined the Football League Second Division at the start of the 1893–94 season. After finishing in first place the club was promoted to the First Division, which it won in 1901 and again in 1906. Liverpool reached its first FA Cup Final in 1914, it won consecutive League championships in 1922 and 1923, but did not win another trophy until the 1946–47 season, when the club won the First Division for a fifth time under the control of ex-West Ham Utd centre half George Kay. Liverpool suffered its second Cup Final defeat in 1950; the club was relegated to the Second Division in the 1953–54 season. Soon after Liverpool lost 2–1 to non-league Worcester City in the 1958–59 FA Cup, Bill Shankly was appointed manager. Upon his arrival he released 24 players and converted a boot storage room at Anfield into a room where the coaches could discuss strategy; the club was promoted back into the First Division in 1962 and won it in 1964, for the first time in 17 years.
In 1965, the club won its first FA Cup. In 1966, the club won the First Division but lost to Borussia Dortmund in the European Cup Winners' Cup final. Liverpool won both the League and the UEFA Cup during the 1972–73 season, the FA Cup again a year later. Shankly was replaced by his assistant, Bob Paisley. In 1976, Paisley's second season as manager, the club won another UEFA Cup double; the following season, the club retained the League title and won the European Cup for the first time, but it lost in the 1977 FA Cup Final. Liverpool retained the European Cup in 1978 and regained the First Division title in 1979. During Paisley's nine seasons as manager Liverpool won 21 trophies, including three European Cups, a UEFA Cup, six League titles and three consecutive League Cups. Paisley was replaced by his assistant, Joe Fagan. Liverpool won the League, League Cup and European Cup in Fagan's first season, becoming the first English side to win three trophies in a season. Liverpool reached the European Cup final again in 1985, against Juventus at the Heysel Stadium.
Before kick-off, Liverpool fans breached a fence which separated the two groups of supporters, charged the Juventus fans. The resulting weight of people caused a retaining wall to collapse, killing 39 fans Italians; the incident became known as the Heysel Stadium disaster. The match was played in spite of protests by both managers, Liverpool lost 1–0 to Juventus; as a result of the tragedy, English clubs were banned from participating in European competition for five years. Fourteen Liverpool fans received convictions for involuntary manslaughter. Fagan had announced his retirement just before the disaster and Kenny Dalglish was appointed as player-manager. During his tenure, the club won another three league titles and two FA Cups, including a League and Cup "Double" in the 1985–86 season. Liverpool's success was overshadowed by the Hillsborough disaster: in an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989, hundreds of Liverpool fans were crushed against perimeter fencing. Ninety-four fans died that day.
After the Hillsborough disaster there was a government review of stadium saf
Goalkeeper (association football)
The goalkeeper shortened to keeper or goalie, is one of the major positions of association football. It is the most specialised position in the sport; the goalkeeper's primary role is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. This is accomplished by the goalkeeper moving into the path of the ball and either catching it or directing it away from the vicinity of the goal line. Within the penalty area goalkeepers are able to use their hands, making them the only players on the field permitted to handle the ball; the special status of goalkeepers is indicated by them wearing different coloured kits from their teammates. The back-pass rule prevents goalkeepers handling direct passes back to them from teammates. Goalkeepers perform goal kicks, give commands to their defense during corner kicks and indirect free kicks, marking. Goalkeepers play an important role in directing on field strategy as they have an unrestricted view of the entire pitch, giving them a unique perspective on play development.
The goalkeeper is the only required position of a team. If they are injured or sent off, a substitute goalkeeper has to take their place, otherwise an outfield player must take the ejected keeper's place in goal. In order to replace a goalkeeper, sent off, a team substitutes an outfield player for the backup keeper, they play the remainder of the match with nine outfield players. If a team does not have a substitute goalkeeper, or they have used all of their permitted substitutions for the match, an outfield player has to take the dismissed goalkeeper's place and wear the goalkeeper shirt; the squad number for a first choice goalkeeper is number 1, although they may wear any jersey number between 1 and 99. Association football, like many sports, has experienced many changes in tactics resulting in the generation and elimination of different positions. Goalkeeper is the only position, certain to have existed since the codification of the sport. In the early days of organised football, when systems were limited or non-existent and the main idea was for all players to attack and defend, teams had a designated member to play as the goalkeeper.
The earliest account of football teams with player positions comes from Richard Mulcaster in 1581 and does not specify goalkeepers. The earliest specific reference to keeping goal comes from Cornish Hurling in 1602. According to Carew: "they pitch two bushes in the ground, some eight or ten foot asunder. One of these is appointed by lots, to the one side, the other to his adverse party. There is assigned for their guard, a couple of their best stopping Hurlers". Other references to scoring goals begin in English literature in the early 16th century. In a 1613 poem, Michael Drayton refers to "when the Ball to throw, And drive it to the Gole, in squadrons forth they goe", it seems inevitable that wherever a game has evolved goals, some form of goalkeeping must be developed. David Wedderburn refers to what has been translated from Latin as to "keep goal" in 1633, though this does not imply a fixed goalkeeper position; the word "goal-keeper" is used in the novel Tom Brown's School Days. The author is here referring to an early form of rugby football: You will see in the first place, that the sixth-form boy, who has the charge of goal, has spread his force so as to occupy the whole space behind the goal-posts, at distances of about five yards apart.
The word "goal-keeper" appeared in the Sheffield Rules of 1867, but the term did not refer to a designated player, but rather to "that player on the defending side who for the time being is nearest to his own goal". The goal-keeper, thus defined, did not enjoy any special handling privileges; the FA's first Laws of the Game of 1863 did not make any special provision for a goalkeeper, with any player being allowed to catch or knock-on the ball. Handling the ball was forbidden in 1870; the next year, 1871, the laws were amended to introduce the goalkeeper and specify that the keeper was allowed to handle the ball "for the protection of his goal". The restrictions on the ability of the goalkeeper to handle the ball were changed several times in subsequent revisions of the laws: 1871: the keeper may handle the ball only "for the protection of his goal". 1873: the keeper may not "carry" the ball. 1883: the keeper may not carry the ball for more than two steps. 1887: the keeper may not handle the ball in the opposition's half.
1901: the keeper may handle the ball for any purpose. 1912: the keeper may handle the ball only in the penalty area. 1931: the keeper may take up to four steps while carrying the ball. 1992: the keeper may not handle the ball after it has been deliberately kicked to him/her by a team-mate. 1997: the keeper may not handle the ball for more than six seconds. Goalkeepers played between the goalposts and had limited mobility, except when trying to save opposition shots. Throughout the years, the role of the goalkeeper has evolved, due to the changes in systems of play, to become more active; the goalkeeper is the only player in association football allowed to use their han
Queens Park Rangers F.C.
Queens Park Rangers Football Club abbreviated to QPR, is a professional association football club based in White City, London. The team plays in the Championship, the second tier of English football, they were founded in 1886 after the merger of St Judes Institute. In the early years after the club's formation in its original home of Queen's Park, they played their home games at many different grounds, until the club settled into its current location at Loftus Road; the club's achievements include winning the League Cup in 1967, they were FA Cup finalists in 1982. Their highest league finish was achieved in 1975–76 when they were runners-up in the old First Division, now known as the Premier League. QPR have long-standing rivalries with several other clubs in the West London area; the most notable of these are Chelsea and Brentford, with whom they contest the West London Derbies. The club was formed in 1886; the resulting team was called Queen's Park Rangers, because most of the players came from the Queen's Park area of north-west London.
QPR became a professional team in 1889, played their home games in nearly 20 different stadia, before permanently settling at Loftus Road in 1917, although the team would attempt to attract larger crowds by playing at the White City Stadium for two short spells: 1931 to 1933, the 1962–63 season. QPR were promoted as champions of Division 3 South in the 1947–48 season. Dave Mangnall was the manager as the club participated in four seasons of the Second Division, being relegated in 1951–52. Tony Ingham was signed from Leeds United and went on to make the most league appearances for QPR. Arguably the club's greatest manager, Alec Stock, arrived prior to the start of the 1959–60 season; the 1960–61 season saw QPR achieve their biggest win to date: 9–2 vs Tranmere Rovers in a Division 3 match. In time, together with Jim Gregory who arrived as chairman in the mid-1960s, helped to achieve a total transformation of the club and its surroundings. In 1966–67, QPR won the Division Three championship and became the first Third Division club to win the League Cup on Saturday, 4 March 1967, beating West Bromwich Albion 3–2, coming back from a two-goal deficit.
It is still the only major trophy. It was the first League Cup final to be held at Wembley Stadium. After winning promotion in 1968 to the top flight for the first time in their history, Rangers were relegated after just one season and spent the next four years in Division Two. Terry Venables joined from Spurs at the beginning of the 1969–70 season and Rodney Marsh was sold to Manchester City. During this time, new QPR heroes emerged including Phil Parkes, Don Givens, Dave Thomas and Stan Bowles; these new signings were in addition to home-grown talent such as Dave Clement, Ian Gillard, Mick Leach and Gerry Francis. In 1974 Dave Sexton joined as manager and, in 1975–76 led QPR to the runners-up spot in the First Division, missing out on the championship by one point with a squad containing seven England internationals and internationals from the home nations. After completing their 42-game season, QPR sat at the top of the league, one point ahead of Liverpool who went on to defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers to clinch the title.
Wolves were relegated to the Second Division that same season. The late 1970s saw some cup success with Rangers reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup and in their first entry into European football reached the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup losing to AEK Athens on penalties. Following Sexton's departure in 1977 the club slipped into the Second Division in 1979. In 1980 Terry Venables took over as manager and in 1981 the club installed a'plastic pitch'. In 1982 QPR, still playing in the Second Division, reached the FA Cup Final for the only time in the club's history, facing holders Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham won 1–0 in a replay; the following season QPR went on to win the Second Division championship and returned to English football's top division. After a respectable fifth-place finish, UEFA Cup qualification, the following year, Venables departed to become manager of Barcelona. In 1988 the club had 24-year-old Richard Thompson. Over the next seven years, various managers came and went from Loftus Road and the club spent many seasons finishing mid table but avoided relegation.
The most successful season during this period was the 1987–88 season in which QPR finished fifth, missing out on a UEFA Cup campaign due to the ban on English clubs in European competition as a result of the Heysel Stadium disaster. They were runners up in the 1986 League Cup, losing to Oxford United. Gerry Francis, a key player in the 1970s QPR side who had proved himself as a successful manager with Bristol Rovers, was appointed manager in the summer of 1991. In the 1991–92 First Division campaign they finished mid-table in the league and were founder members of the new Premier League, finishing fifth, as top London club, in the 1992–93 inaugural season. Francis oversaw one of QPR's most famous victories, the 4–1 win at Old Trafford in front of live TV on New Year's Day 1992. Midway through the 1994–95 season Francis resigned and quickly became manager of Tottenham Hotspur and Ray Wilkins was installed as player-manager. Wilkins led QPR to an eighth-place finish in the Premiership. In July 1995 the club's top goalscorer, Les Ferdinand, was sold for a club record fee of £6 million to Newcastle United.
QPR were relegated at the end of the 1995 -- 96 season. QPR competed in Division 1 until 2001 under a succession of managers. Gerry Francis returned in 1998.
Watford Football Club is a professional football club based in Watford, England, that plays in the Premier League, the highest level in the English football league system. Founded in 1898 by the amalgamation of West Herts and Watford St. Mary's. After finishing the 1914–15 season as Southern League champions under the management of Harry Kent, Watford joined the Football League in 1920; the club played at several grounds in its early history, before moving to a permanent location at Vicarage Road in 1922, where it remains. Watford spent most of the following half century in the lower divisions of The Football League, changing colours and crest on multiple occasions. England manager Graham Taylor's tenure at the club saw Watford scale new heights. Between Taylor's appointment in 1977 and departure in 1987, Watford rose from the Fourth Division to the First Division; the team finished second in the First Division in the 1982–83 season, competed in the UEFA Cup in 1983–84, reached the 1984 FA Cup Final.
Watford experienced a decade of decline between 1987 and 1997, before Taylor returned as full-time manager, leading the team to successive promotions from the renamed Second Division to the Premier League for one season in 1999–2000. The club experienced a further one season stint in the top division of English football during the 2006–07 season, under Aidy Boothroyd's management. Watford secured promotion in 2014–15, have competed in the Premier League since the 2015–16 season finishing 13th, 17th and 14th respectively. Watford is owned by the Pozzo family, which owns Udinese Calcio in Italy and Granada CF in Spain. Sir Elton John, who owned Watford during both of Graham Taylor's successful periods as manager, served alongside Taylor as the club's joint Honorary Life President until 2008, only to resume the role he shared alongside Graham Taylor until Taylor's death. Watford Football Club was formed on 15 April 1898 by the amalgamation of two strong local clubs, West Herts and Watford St Mary's.
The Watford Observer of 7 May 1898 reported - When three-parts of the season was gone, there were whispers of the advantages of amalgamation of the two clubs. That the principle was right few disputed, the question narrowed itself down to a few minor difficulties, it was ascertained that the executive on both sides regarded the suggestion favourably, joint meetings of the officials were arranged. The proposals took a definite shape, soon amalgamation was a thing accomplished, it was decided, that each club should finish off its fixtures. Next season the Watford club will play on the Cassio-Road ground, one of the chief ideas of the amalgamation is to have a second team of sufficient strength to be an attraction while the first string is engaged elsewhere; the details of the amalgamation scheme we have given in these columns. Speaking the local football season which has just closed has been a most important one, it has witnessed two steps which have marked fresh epochs - the adoption of professionalism and the amalgamation of West Herts and Watford St. Mary's.
The amalgamation was approved by the full F. A. committee on 27 May 1898 as reported by the Lichfield Mercury of 28 May 1898 "permission was given to Watford St. Mary's and West Herts to take the name of Watford Football Club, the two clubs having amalgamated." West Herts were known as Watford Rovers who were formed in 1881 by Henry Grover, who went on to play for the club as a full back. Rovers composed of amateur players, held home games at several locations in the town of Watford; the team first competed in the FA Cup in the 1886–87 season, in 1889 Watford won the County Cup for the first time. The team became the football section of "West Hertfordshire Club and Ground" in 1891, moved to a ground on Cassio Road; as "West Herts" they joined the Southern Football League in 1896. West Herts fortunes slumped at the start of the 1897/98 season and attendances were less than 200, they took the bold step of turning their fortunes revived. Watford St. Mary's were runners up in the Hertfordshire Senior Cup of 1894/95 and attracted crowds of 400 to 500 when West Herts were at home.
The two clubs talked of an amalgamation, which occurred on 15 April 1898. This was reported by the Watford Observer of 7 May 1898, it was agreed. The new club was named Watford Football Club. Following relegation to the Southern League Second Division in 1903, Watford appointed its first manager – former England international and First Division top scorer John Goodall, he led Watford to promotion, kept the team in the division until his departure in 1910. Despite financial constraints, Watford won the Southern League title in the 1914–15 season under his successor, Harry Kent. Watford held the title for five years following the suspension of the Southern League during the First World War – after finishing the 1919–20 season runners-up on goal average, the club resigned from the Southern League to join the new Football League Third Division. From 1921–22, the third tier of The Football League consisted of two parallel sections of 22 clubs, fighting both for promotion to the Second Division and battling to hold on to their league status.
There was a re-election system in place which meant the bottom two teams in each of the two divisions had to apply for re-election to the league. Watford finished outside the top six league positions in every season between 1922 and 1934. Following Kent's departure in 1926, they finished 21st out of 22 clubs in 1926–27, but were unanimously re-elected to the league after a ballot of clubs in the top two divisions of The Football
Southampton F.C. Player of the Season
Southampton Football Club is an English association football club based in Southampton, Hampshire. Founded in 1885 as St Mary's YMA, they became a professional club in 1891, co-founded the Southern League in 1894. Southampton won the Southern League championship six times between 1896 and 1904, were elected to the Football League in 1920 as co-founders of the Third Division; the Saints finished as runners-up in their first season, the following year received promotion to the Second Division as Third Division South champions. The club first entered the First Division in 1966, play in its modern-day counterpart, the Premier League. Southampton won the FA Cup in 1976, reached the final of the League Cup in 1979 and 2017, won the League Trophy in 2010; the Southampton Player of the Season award is voted for annually by the club's supporters, who send their choice of player to the Southern Daily Echo, a local newspaper. Since its inception in 1973, 37 different players have won the award. Six of these players have received the accolade for a second time, to date only Matt Le Tissier has won the award for a third time.
Three players have won in consecutive seasons, 28 winners have represented their country at international level, one winner has gone on to become the club's manager. The most recent winner of the award, for the 2017–18 season, is goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. In recent years, the club has presented its own Player of the Season award, alongside other end-of-season accolades; the most recent winner of the club-run Fans' Player of the Season award is Southern Daily Echo Player of the Season winner McCarthy, named Players' Player of the Season. Jack Stephens was presented the President's Choice Award by Terry Paine, the award for Goal of the Season was presented to Manolo Gabbiadini for his goal against Swansea City in the penultimate game of the season, Jake Vokins won the Young Player of the Season award, Kiera Skeels was named Girls' Regional Talent Club Player of the Season; as of 13 May 2018 Chalk, Gary. C. official website
Kidderminster Harriers F.C.
Kidderminster Harriers Football Club is a professional association football club based in Kidderminster, England. The club participates in the sixth tier of English football. Formed in 1886, Kidderminster have played at Aggborough Stadium, they are the only club from Worcestershire to have played in the Football League, competing from 2000 to 2005. Kidderminster Harriers were formed in 1886 from a successful athletics and rugby union club that had existed since 1877. In July 1880 the Athletics club amalgamated with the local Clarence rugby club to become'Kidderminster Harriers and Football Club'. Matches were played at White Wickets on the Franche Road in Kidderminster. 1885-6 was the last season played as a rugby club and the Harriers switched to Association rules for the next season. Playing games at Chester Road Harriers' first game was 18 September 1886, away to Wilden, winning 2–1; the town saw a rival team start up as Kidderminster Olympic in 1887 becoming one of the best sides in the area.
In 1887–88 the club started playing its matches at Aggborough. Both Olympic and Harriers were founder members of the Birmingham and District League in 1889, Olympic won the league in 1890, with Harriers runners-up. Both sides attracted crowds of 2–4,000, with the local derbies seeing over 7,000 attending. Owing to their success soon after both Olympic and Harriers were subject to allegations of'professionalism' and illegal payments to players, although the League Committee let off both clubs with a warning about future conduct. In 1890 the two clubs amalgamated as Kidderminster F. C. on a full professional basis, the new club being admitted to the Midland League, formed in 1889. The club became the first from the town to enter the FA Cup and after winning 4 qualifying round games, reached the First Round Proper, they protested the result because of the poor state of the pitch. Their protest was upheld and the tie was replayed a week again at Darwen, where Darwen won 13–0; however the club found things difficult financially as a professional club, resigned from the league and were wound up in March 1891.
The club reverted to amateur status in the Birmingham and District League the following season as Kidderminster Harriers. The club again reached the 1st Round of the F. A Cup in 1906–07, losing to Oldham Athletic away 5–0. In 1910 the current England international full-back Jesse Pennington signed for Harriers after a dispute with his club West Bromwich Albion, he played one game before the dispute was resolved and he returned to Albion. The twenties were hard going for the club as poor form on the pitch and financial problems off it took their toll. Harriers did manage a League runners-up place in 1924–25. In this season Harriers made national headlines by signing Stanley Fazackerley, the first £5,000 transfer in English football and scorer of the FA Cup Final winning goal for Sheffield United in 1915. After a pay dispute, he had been given 14 days notice by his club Wolverhampton Wanderers and had returned to the public house he managed in the city, where a Harriers fan drinking there overheard the news and contacted the Harriers Secretary.
The Wolves captain George Getgood in contractual dispute at the time signed for Harriers in a double swoop. The 1927–28 season saw another accusation of bribery, this time against secretary Pat Davis by Cradley Heath. During an investigation Davis admitted he had offered Burton Town players a ten shillings bonus if they managed to beat Worcester City in the last match of the season; the match was drawn. The case made Pat Davis was temporarily suspended from all duties. Harriers proved a rich source of young quality players picked up by professional football clubs at this time, those moving to bigger clubs including full back Billy Blake, winger Fred Leedham, Dennis Jennings and forward Norman Brookes. In 1935–36 a new scoring record for the club was set, with Billy Boswell scoring 64 goals in a single season. Harriers did not win the West Midlands League until 1938, they moved to the Southern League the following year, but played just two games because of the onset of World War II. They rejoined the Southern League in 1948.
Their first game was a 1–1 draw with Chingford Town in front of 3,889. Future Football Association General Secretary Ted Croker was a Harriers player during the early 1950s, as was future England international striker Gerry Hitchens. Harriers became the first team to host a floodlit FA Cup match, when on 14 September 1955 they played Brierley Hill Alliance in a preliminary round replay, which Harriers won 4–2. By 1956–57 the club was again in financial difficulties and after several seasons of struggle in 1960 the club voluntarily dropped back down to the Birmingham League. During the 1964–72 era Harriers won the West Midland League four times, the various County Senior Cups eight times. Brendan Wassall debuted on 17 October 1962 against Banbury Spencer, he went on to make 686 appearances up until 1975, scored 269 goals. His son, played for Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City and Derby County. In 1963 Peter Wassall joined the Harriers on the advice of his brother Brendan after spells with Wolves, Aston Villa and Atherstone Utd.
After a season in midfield he switched to play up front and went on to score a total of 448 goals in 621 games for the Harriers. He joined Hereford Utd in 1971 but returned to Ag
Slovakia national football team
The Slovakia national football team represents Slovakia in association football and is controlled by the Slovak Football Association, the governing body for football in Slovakia. Slovakia's home stadium from 2019 is reconstructed Tehelné pole in capital city of Slovakia Bratislava and their head coach is Pavel Hapal. Slovakia is one of the newest national football teams in the world, having split from the Czechoslovakia national team after the dissolution of the unified state in 1993. Slovakia maintains its own national side. Slovakia qualified for two major international tournaments, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016. Slovakia qualified to the FIFA World Cup in 2010 after winning their qualifying group despite two defeats against Slovenia, progressed beyond the championship group stage after a 3–2 win against Italy, before bowing out of the tournament after a 2–1 defeat in the second round against eventual runners-up the Netherlands, it was the first time the team have played in a major football competition, after playing every FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign since 1998 and every UEFA European Football Championship qualifying campaign since 1996, after a 50-year absence from international football due to representing part of the Czechoslovakia team.
The nation did come close to securing a berth at the 2006 finals in Germany, after finishing second in their group ahead of Russia and behind Portugal, before drawing Spain in their qualification play-off, in which the Slovaks lost by a wide margin on aggregate. The team have achieved some noteworthy results, such as the aforementioned win over the title holders Italy at the 2010 World Cup and a 1–0 win against Russia in September 2010. Despite this success however, the team dropped down the rankings and a considerable drop in form went with this, as the team failed to qualify for Euro 2012 finishing in their group in fourth place, they only scored seven goals in the group, only more than minnows Andorra. Slovakia failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, but secured a spot in France for Euro 2016 under head coach Ján Kozák which helped the team reach their best position of 14th in the FIFA World Rankings. Slovakia's traditional rival is the Czech Republic which they played twice in the qualification for the 1998 World Cup in 1996 and 1997, winning 2–1 in Bratislava before losing 3–0 in Prague with both teams eliminated, before playing each other again in 2008 and 2009 in the qualifying round for the 2010 World Cup.
In these two meetings, the teams drew 2–2 in Bratislava with the Slovaks winning 2–1 in Prague. But before that, they playing each other in Euro 2008 qualifying, they lost 3–1 in Prague and 0–3 in Bratislava; the first official match of the first Slovak Republic was played in Bratislava against Germany on 27 August 1939, ended in a 2–0 victory for Slovakia. After the Second World War, the national football team was subsumed into the team of Czechoslovakia, for over 50 years Slovakia played no matches as an independent country. During this period, they contributed several key players to the Czechoslovak team, including the majority of the team that won the UEFA Euro 1976. Slovakia's first official international after regaining independence was a 1–0 victory in Dubai over the United Arab Emirates on 2 February 1994, their match back on Slovak soil was the 4–1 win over Croatia in Bratislava on 20 April 1994. Slovakia suffered their biggest defeat since independence on 22 June 1995, in Mendoza, against Argentina.
Their biggest wins have come against Liechtenstein in 2004 and San Marino in 2007. Slovakia played in a major championship as an independent team for the first time in Euro 1996 qualifying, but finished in third place in their qualifying group, behind Romania and France, having recorded wins against Poland and Azerbaijan, twice. In the 1998 World Cup qualifiers, Slovakia finished fourth in their six-team group with five wins, one draw and four defeats, their first four games in this were all wins, with one of these against their Czech neighbors, helping the team reach their highest FIFA World Ranking to date of number 17. Slovakia participated in the FIFA World Cup for the first time as an independent nation after finishing in first in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group 3 ahead of Slovenia, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and Poland. On 14 October 2009, they clinched. On 24 June 2010, at the tournament proper, Slovakia finished second in the group stage after defeating reigning champions Italy in a game which ESPN dubbed "epic": the game saw three goals being scored after the 80th minute, two by Italy and one by Slovakia, as well as a disallowed goal by Italy flagged offside by "the tightest of decisions".
The result eliminated Italy, who finished last in the group. The result of this match meant that for the first time in World Cup history, both finalists from the previous tournament had been eliminated from the first round, champion Italy and runner-up France. In the round of 16, Slovakia played the Netherlands in the round of 16, falling behind 2–0 only to score a late goal from the penalty spot by striker Róbert Vittek, the last kick of the game in a 2–1 defeat. Despite elimination, the goal returned Vittek to the top of the goalscoring charts joint top with David Villa until Villa himself scored against Portugal in Spain's 1–0 win in the same stage of the tournament. For Euro 2012 qualification, Slovakia was drawn against Russia, the Republic of Ireland, Armenia and Andorra; the good campaign in