Japan’s 8-0 win over Tajikistan this week was the biggest UFWC title match win for more than 20 years. Mike Havenaar, Shinji Okazaki, and Shinji Kagawa scored two goals each, and Yuichi Komano and Kengo Nakamura also netted in the huge win that saw Japan retain the UFWC title. It wasn’t Japan’s biggest ever win (they beat the Philippines 15-0 in a non-UFWC match in 1967), but it’s a significant scoreline that deserves to be placed in the context of UFWC history.
The last team to score 8 goals in a UFWC title match was Germany in 2000, when they won 8-2 vs Lichtenstein. At half-time the score was level at 2-2, and German coach Erich Ribbeck substituted his entire team. Germany eventually took a 3-2 lead in the 65th minute, and then scored five in the last ten minutes, including two from Ulf Kirsten and two from Carsten Jancker.
The last team to win a UFWC title match 8-0 was the Netherlands, vs Malta in 1990. Led by the attacking trio of Dennis Bergkamp, Marco van Basten and captain Ruud Gullit, the formidable Dutch were unstoppable. Van Basten had a hat-trick within 23 minutes, on his way to a five-goal haul. Aron Winter made it 4-0 in the second half, before Bergkamp got two, and van Basten got two more – the last from the penalty spot.
Delving further into UFWC history, Brazil beat Bolivia 8-1 in Lima at the Copa America in 1953. Julio Botelho, or Julinho, scored 4 in that game. Brazil finished as runners-up in the tournament to Paraguay.
England scored 8 against Austria in 1909 (winning 8-1), and Austria scored 8 against Switzerland in 1931 (also winning 8-1). But a handful of sides have scored more than 8 goals in UFWC title matches.
In 1927, England scored 9 against Belgium, although they failed to keep a clean sheet in the 9-1 win. The Everton legend Dixie Dean scored a hat-trick, George Brown and Arthur Rigby scored braces, and Joe Hulme and Louis Page also scored. England also scored 9 against Wales, in another 9-1 win, way back in 1896. Scotland also scored 9 against Wales, beating them 9-0 in 1878.
In 1945, Sweden beat Norway 10-0 in a euphoric post-war performance. The brilliant Gunnar Nordahl – the highest goalscorer in UFWC history with 29 goals in 19 title matches – scored four in this game. Arne Nyberg and Nils Carlsson scored two each, and Vincent Persson and the great Gunnar Gren also scored.
And Scotland beat Ireland 11-0 in 1901, with four from Celtic’s Sandy ‘The Duke’ McMahon, two from his clubmate John Campbell, four more from Rangers hero Bob Hamilton, and one from David Russell.
But the most number of goals scored by one team in a UFWC title match is 13. England beat Ireland 13-2 in 1899, with Corinthians forward Gilbert Smith scoring 4, James Settle of Bury scoring a hat-trick on his debut, the great Steve Bloomer and Fred Forman scoring two each, and Frank Forman and William Athersmith also scoring. The fact that Ireland keeper goalkeeper James Lewis only had eight full fingers may have contributed to the scoreline, although he did manage to limit the damage by saving a James Crabtree penalty. With 15 goals in all, this remains the highest scoring game in UFWC history.
You can read more about these games, and hundreds of others, in the UFWC book Unofficial Football World Champions, now available from all good bookshops in both English and Japanese. The English edition is published by Superelastic and is available in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon.co.uk. The Japanese language edition is published by Asuka Shinsha and available from Amazon.co.jp.
Unofficial Football World Champions traces the history of the UFWC from the very first international match in 1872 via more than 800 title matches, involving legendary teams and footballing minnows, classic finals and forgotten friendlies, celebrated players and unsung heroes. The book focusses on 100 key matches, uncovering some amazing stories, many of which are ignored in official football histories. You can read more about the book and see reviews here.