Belfast Telegraph

Why Northern Ireland can be crowned unofficial world champions with a win over the Netherlands

Northern Ireland could be celebrating a world title of sorts in Rotterdam...
Northern Ireland could be celebrating a world title of sorts in Rotterdam...
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

It could be a significant night for Northern Ireland in Rotterdam.

Michael O'Neill's men, of course, are taking on the Netherlands in a crunch Euro 2020 qualifier but there's also an (unofficial) world title on the line.

Should Northern Ireland upset the odds and claim victory, they will be crowned (Unofficial) Champions of the World for only the third time.

Ok, so it's nothing to do with FIFA and it's nowhere near a recognised title. Rather it's just a bit of fun but sure wouldn't it be nice?

The guys over at the Unofficial Football World Championships treat the world title as if it were a boxing belt, effectively winner stays on and if the match is tied, the holder retains the title.

They've traced it right back to the first international match in 1872, when England and Scotland played out a 0-0 draw.

In the effective replay, England won 4-2 to take the crown for the first time, even if they weren't aware of it.

Northern Ireland have only been able to snatch the crown twice, both when they were known as Ireland. The first was back in 1927, when they beat reigning champs England 2-0 at Windsor Park.

While Wales would snatch it away four months later, Ireland won it back in 1933, beating Scotland 2-1 in Glasgow only to surrender the title to the English just a month later.

Since then, Northern Ireland have played in 15 (unofficial) world title matches but have never yet managed to win the crown.

Anyway, it currently lies with the Netherlands after they wrestled it off Germany with the 4-2 win in Hamburg last month.

So a win for Northern Ireland tonight and the title will return to Belfast.

The last time Northern Ireland were involved was in May 2014, when they lost 1-0 to holder Uruguay.

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