With England’s friendly against Germany at Signal Iduna Park fast approaching, our minds naturally turn back to that historic September 2001 night in Berlin, when a Sven-Goran Eriksson-led England demolished the home side 5-1.
As is the case whenever we go against the reigning world champions, optimistic fans hold out hope of rediscovering some of that magic from 16 years ago.
While the performance marked a record win for England over the old enemy, it was far from a record in the greater scheme of things in world football. Today, we’re taking a look at some of the biggest ever victories on the international stage.
Australia 31 – 0 American Samoa
Only months prior to England’s historic thrashing of Germany, Australia set the world record for the biggest ever victory in international football – a record that still (just about) holds up to this day. On April 11, 2001, the Socceroos hosted American Samoa in Coffs Harbour in a World Cup 2002 qualifier that will live in infamy.
Having defeated Tonga 22-0 only 48 hours earlier, Australia fielded an under-strength side against an American Samoa side plagued with visa issues; only one member of their original squad was deemed eligible to play.
American Samoa started courageously, managing to hold Australia scoreless for the first ten minutes of play. However, Archie Thompson then fired in his first of 13 goals on the night, with the Socceroos leading by 16 goals to nil at half time. The rout continued in the second period, with the home side adding 15 to their tally, and consigning American Samoa to the greatest-ever recognised international defeat, 0-31.
Kuwait 20 – 0 Bhutan
Although their performance wasn’t quite as dominant as Australia’s, Kuwait set what was, at the time, a record score of their own in an Asian Cup qualifier against Bhutan a year earlier. In February 2000, the Western Asian nation scored 10 goals in each half to down the ‘world’s worst team’.
While many expected a one-sided game, few could have predicted the margin of victory; one has to wonder what odds international football betting sites would offer on a 20-0 win.
During the match, Kuwaiti striker Bashar Abdullah fired home eight goals, while goalkeeper Ahmad Jasim even managed to get his name on the historic scoresheet. Four of the 20 were scored from penalties, with two Bhutan players being sent off for fouls inside the box.
It took 15 years for the landlocked Himalayan country to put the loss behind them, but they managed their fourth ever – and most important – victory in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, defeating Sri Lanka 1-0 in March 2015.
Vanuatu 46 – 0 Micronesia
If the above one-sided beatings didn’t sound painful enough, spare a thought for the Federated States of Micronesia. Despite representing a group of over 600 islands spread out across the Pacific Ocean, the country has only two full-sized football pitches – and the lack of facilities has translated into performances lacking quality on the international stage.
During the 2015 Pacific Games, which took place in Papua New Guinea, Micronesia had the dubious honour of scoring zero and conceding 114 goals in three games, posting losses of 0-30, 0-38 and 0-46 against Tahiti, Fiji and Vanuatu, respectively.
Mercifully, due to the tournament featuring under-23 sides rather than full senior internationals, however, the results are not officially recognised by football governing body FIFA as world records.
While it’s highly unlikely that England will set a new world – or even domestic – record in the friendly later this month against Germany, fans will be hoping for at least a victory for the Three Lions.
Which one-sided international drubbings stand out in your mind? Let us know in the comments section below.