Football Is the most popular sport in the world.

Football it is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries.

England stake a claim to have invented football in the mid-19th century and formed the first Football League in 1888.

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It consisted of 12 teams, many from the north of England.

Preston North End, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Accrington, Everton, Burnley, Derby County, Notts County and Stoke were all founder members of the Football League.

Preston North End went on to win the first ever championship.

They were unbeaten throughout the season, collecting 18 wins, and four draws, from their 22 games. Preston, who now play in the second tier of English football were one of the major forces in the early years of the game, either winning or finishing as runners up in the first four seasons of the Football League.

Preston still play at Deepdale, the ground they used when they joined the Football League in 1888. It housed the National Football Museum before it was moved to Manchester in 2012.
Manchester is a city that is also world famous for its links to football.

Manchester United have won the most English football top flight titles, with 20, closely followed by Liverpool, who dominated in the 1980s and have picked up 18 top flight championships.

Leeds United

Under manager Don Revie, were the kings of English football in the late 1960s and early 1970s, winning three first division championships and finishing as runners up on five other occasions. They also won the 1972 centenary FA Cup final and picked Football League Cup and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup twice.

Arsenal have also enjoyed their moments at the very top of the English football.

Most notably in the early 2000s when manager Arsene Wenger led them to the Premier League title and FA Cup in 2001/02 season and the championship again in 2002/03 However, the 2003/04 season remains the greatest in Arsenal’s history as they went the entire league campaign without losing a single match – an achievement only matched by Preston North End 115 years earlier when the seasons were a lot shorter.

In total Arsenal’s unbeaten record stretched to a record-breaking 49 games and was ended by a defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford in October 2004.

Now Chelsea and Manchester City also compete and collect honours at the top of the English game,

but the familiar names of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are also regularly in the mix for the top four places in the Premier League.

Football first came to international prominence at the turn of the century when English sides would tour South America. Exeter City, who currently play in the fourth tier of English football, were the first side to have a match against the Brazilian national team in 1914. The St James’s Park club were on a tour of South America,

Playing against mainly teams from Argentina.

However, their boat back to Britain left from Rio de Janeiro and once Brazilian clubs learned that there was an English football team in their country there were inundated with requests for a game.

They couldn’t fit all the matches in so a Brazilian XI was formed which is now the basis for the country’s national team. The match, which ended in a 2-0 victory to Brazil, was commemorated in the summer of 2014 when Exeter City returned to Brazil and played against Fluminense under-23s.

The game took place in the Estádio das Laranjeiras, the stadium that had hosted the historic game 100 years previous.

Football is very popular in South America and Brazil are the most successful international side having won five Fifa Football World Cups. Germany are the current holders of the Fifa Football World Cup having beaten Argentina 1-0, after extra-time, in the 2014 final held in Brazil.

Germany have won the Fifa Football World Cup four times,

three times as West Germany in 1954, 1974 and 1990 and once as a unified country in 2014.

Italy have also won the Fifa World Cup four times.

The first football World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay, where the hosts upset the odds by beating Brazil in the final. Italy followed suit by winning the tournament they hosted in 1934 and then the subsequent tournament four years later in France.

England did not enter any of the pre-war competitions and were knocked out at the group stage in the first World Cup they entered in 1950 in Brazil.

England’s only FIFA football World Cup victory came when they hosted the tournament in 1966. They beat West Germany in the final, with Sir Geoff Hurst scoring a hat-trick for the Three Lions.

The English Premier League remains one of the most popular around the globe,

with its football matches being broadcast to hundreds of different countries worldwide.

La Liga, in Spain, with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, also attracts some of the very best players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and rivals the English top football division in terms of popularity.