Football Champions & Numbers

Lionel Messi of Barcelona

Rather surprisingly England, the nation that codified the game of football in its modern form, does not rank highly among the world’s most winning nations, based on the number of World Cup (initially the Jules Rimet Cup) wins.

The World Cup being held every four years since 1930, the field of winners is limited to only 8 nations, with England’s only victory coming as late as 1966 on home ground at Wembley Stadium.
Here is the ranking as of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa:
  1. Brazil, 5 wins (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
  2. Italy, 4 wins (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)
  3. Germany (and West Germany), 3 wins (1954, 1974, 1990)
  4. Argentina (1978, 1986) and Uruguay (1930, 1950), 2 wins each
  5. England (1966), France (1988) and Spain (2010), 1 win each.
Brazil and Germany also hold the record for the highest number of appearances in the World Cup Final (7), followed by Italy (6), Argentina (4), the Netherlands (3), France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Uruguay (2). Other countries who made it to the World Cup Final at least once are England and Sweden.
Football Numbers
FIFA does a neat job of charting the progress of national teams in international matches over a 4-year period with its FIFA Ranking (, which, for Men, is currently dominated by European nations (Spain, Netherlands, Germany).
The ranking is updated monthly (if you’re curious about the formula see ) and a parallel one exists for Women.
We at GSN could not resist devising our own ranking of excellence and have created the Football Elite Ranking.
It ranks the placements in the last four in the Men Football World Cup since its inception in 1930, awarding 5 points to the winner and then 3,2,1 in descending order to the other 3 teams. The standings are shown below, and are soon to be integrated with the final four results of regional (confederation) tournaments of all time, to give a truly historical perspective on the international all-time greats in the sport.
GSN Football Elite Ranking
  1. Germany 37 pts
  2. Brazil 36 pts
  3. Italy 29 pts
  4. Argentina 16 pts
  5. France and Uruguay 13 pts
  6. Netherlands 10 pts
  7. Sweden 8 pts
  8. Spain, England, Czechoslovakia, Hungary 6 pts
  9. Spain 5 pts
  10. Poland 4 pts
  11. Austria, Portugal 3 pts
  12. USA, Yugoslavia, Chile, Croatia, Turkey 2 pts
  13. USSR, Belgium, Bulgaria, South Korea 1 pt.