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What Is Ireland's Highest Ever Position In The End Of Year FIFA World Rankings?

What Is Ireland's Highest Ever Position In The End Of Year FIFA World Rankings?
By Conor Neville Updated

The final world rankings update of 2016 was released today and Ireland finds itself in 23rd, a leap of eight spots from this time last year and a giant jump of 44 spots since this time three years ago.

Here, we cast an eye over all of Ireland's end of year rankings right the way back to the time when FIFA bothered to start doing this.

1993 - 10th

Ireland's halcyon days in the FIFA world rankings came early in the process. Our highest ever world ranking was achieved in FIFA's first ever published world rankings.

For the world rankings were first instituted in the summer of 1993, an especially glorious and triumphant time in the history of Irish football. This is what the top ten in the first ever world rankings looked like. Soon, we would cruise ahead of England.

We experienced something of a wobble towards the end of 1993, losing 3-1 at home to Spain and needing a draw in Windsor Park in the final game. But qualification for USA 94 was aschieved and Ireland finished the year in 10th place in the rankings.


1994 - 9th

Ireland's highest ever end of year spot in the FIFA world rankings. Victory over Italy and a last of 16 spot in the World Cup were enough to secure us 9th place. Friendly wins over Holland and Germany and a decent start to Euro 96 qualifying helped too.


1995  28th

Ireland plummeted down the rankings after a dismal year, our first truly bad one since 1985. His aged team clearly in need of surgery, Big Jack bid us goodbye. We'd be watching Euro 96 on television.

1996 - 36th


More slippage. Given our friendly travails in the early part of Mick McCarthy's reign, the only wonder is how the slippage wasn't more pronounced.

1997 - 47th


Failure to qualify for the 32-team World Cup in France saw us slip further down the pecking order in 1997. The infamous loss away in Macedonia presumably cost us a truck-load of ranking points.

1998 - 56th

Our lowest yet. Hard to fully grasp why Ireland should have fallen this far by December 1998. After all, it was the latter part of'98 that the corner was turned. A 2-0 win over Croatia in September set us on the road to happier times.


1999 - 35th

A big leap as the FIFA world rankings began to take account of the revival. While we'd miss out on Euro 2000 by a whisker, Ireland beat Yugoslavia at home and helped eliminate the third place team at France 98 from the European championships.


2000 - 31st

A modest rise achieved after a fantastic beginning to the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. Ireland managed two superb draws in Holland and Portugal at the end of the first year of the new millennium.

2001 - 17th

Ireland qualify for their first major championship in eight years and climb back into the top 20 in the world. The highlights are the win over Holland and the 2-1 aggregate victory over Iran in the playoff.

2002 - 14th

Another modest rise achieved off the back of a solid showing in the 2002 World Cup. Oddly, our disastrous start to the Euro 2004 campaign, which, in part, precipitated Mick McCarthy's departure does not appear to be reflected in the rankings.

2003 - 14th

Ireland somehow maintained the same world ranking position at the end of 2003 despite finishing 3rd in the qualifying group for Euro 2004. Brian Kerr's formidable friendly record surely played a part.

2004 - 12th

Ireland were crowned unofficial world champions in 2004 following a win over Czech Republic and reached the lofty spot of 12th in the rankings, a strange phenomenon for anyone who remembers the general disenchantment of the era. Kerr's King of the Friendly reputation was key here.

2005 - 24th

Heavy-ish drop, albeit one which left us only one spot below where we are now. Ireland failed to reach the World Cup in Germany, finishing 4th in an absurdly tight qualifying group.

2006 - 49th

A massive fall in the world rankings as Irish football endures a traumatic year. The 4-0 loss to Holland in a friendly in the summer was alarming. The 5-2 defeat to Cyprus in October was proof that hell was at the gates.

2007 - 35th

Mysterious rise in the world rankings for Ireland, presumably effected by the wins over Wales and Slovakia in March. Ireland also achieve a home draw against Germany later in the year, which was wholly ignored as elimination had already been confirmed.

2008 - 38th

Insignificantly small fall in the rankings occurred despite Ireland's relatively positive start to the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign. Trap's first year.

2009 - 35th

Minor rise off the back of Ireland's improved year in 2009. For the first time since 2001, Ireland reach the playoff of a qualifying campaign but fall short in circumstances which don't need to be revisited.

2010 - 36th

Ireland had to wait until late in the year for competitive games. The 1-0 win in Armenia was undervalued at the time but later proved an exceptionally important result. The loss at home to Russia was a serious jolt.

2011 - 22nd

Ireland's best end of year ranking of the current decade. A record people often forget now is that Ireland went a full eight games in the middle of 2011 without conceding a goal. Admittedly, this run took in friendlies and the Celtic Nations Cup.

2012 - 42nd

No surprise that Ireland's world ranking position collapsed in 2012. A dismal performance in Euro 2012 followed by a poor opening to the World Cup qualifying campaign, 2012 was a trial. Hard to figure if the 4-0 defeat to Spain or the 6-1 loss at home to Germany was worse. Probably the latter.

2013 - 67th

Not even the late arrival of Noel King and then Martin O'Neill to the hot seat could rescue Ireland's ranking position in 2013. Our lowest end-of-year ranking position yet. The Trap era dribbled to an dispiriting conclusion in Vienna as Ireland lost 1-0 to Austria and tumbled to a distant 4th in our qualifying group.

2014 - 64th

Only a tiny rise. A 1-1 draw away in Germany was cancelled out by a 1-0 loss in Glasgow. A 5-1 spanking away to Portugal was our lowest friendly moment. A 4-1 victory at home to the USA at the year's end was our best.

2015 - 31st

Serious jump off the back of qualification for Euro 2016, victory over Germany and a surprisingly comfortable playoff victory over Bosnia, who themselves were pretty high in the world.

Read more: The Greatest Moment Of 2016: The Day Balls.ie Beat The Irish Indo 2-0 In The Carl O'Malley Cup

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