Celebrating Blackpool's famous role in England's history ahead of 1,000th international
The legacy of the Three Lions will be celebrated at Wembley Stadium tonight as The FA marks England men’s 1,000th international.
The visit of Montenegro for a UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier is another significant milestone in England’s 147-year history.
To celebrate the occasion, the current squad will take to the pitch wearing individual legacy numbers on their shirts, while the notable contributions of other former internationals are to be recognised.
From Robert Barker, England’s goalkeeper in football’s first international match in 1872, at number one to recent debutant Tyrone Mings at number 1244, every individual to have represented the nation at senior level has their own unique place in the Three Lions’ legacy.
As is already recognised in other sports, the senior men’s footballers will now adopt this tradition moving forward with UEFA granting special dispensation for legacy numbers to be displayed underneath the crest for the 1,000th game.
The digits will be moved to the inside of each collar for future fixtures to ensure UEFA regulations are adhered to, but the numbers will become a reference point throughout the squad’s wider set up.
Gareth Southgate was also presented with his own legacy number (1,071) from his playing career during a recent visit to an exhibition celebrating the journey to the 1,000th international at the National Football Museum in Manchester.
The England men’s manager said: “It encapsulates the history and the importance of the team going back right the way through.
“There are so many players that have gone before and players that will come after.
“It’s important we respect the shirt and leave it in a better place than when we found it.
“So to be involved in this game is a particularly poignant moment, especially given that some of our former players will be at the match as well.
“Of course, we always want to win, and win trophies with England, but also it’s about individual achievement.
“To become an England international is such a difficult and long journey for every player.
“What it means to their families, the community, the school they went to, the youth club or Sunday team they played for.
“It is important sometimes to take a step back and remember what that is about.”
We know all about the contributions to the national team from some of Blackpool’s finest names, with the likes of Jimmy Armfield, Sir Stanley Matthews and Alan Ball all enjoying fine careers for the national team.
Armfield became the 70th player to wear the captain’s armband for England in the game against Luxembourg on September 28, 1961.
Having won 43 caps in total, he captained the Three Lions for the 15th and final time against Finland on June 26, 1966.
Ball, of course, was a World Cup winner while a Blackpool player - going on to earn 72 caps, scoring eight times.
Matthews, meanwhile, found the back of the net on 11 occasions for the national side in 54 appearances, spanning a remarkable 23 years.
But what about those lesser-known players with a connection to the Fylde Coast?
In total, 13 Blackpool players have had the honour of wearing the famous Three Lions jersey.
Ray Charnley, Eddie Shimwell and Ernie Taylor all received one cap, while Tommy Garrett, Jimmy Hampson and Bill Perry all received three.
Forward Harry Bedford, who scored 112 goals in 169 games for Blackpool, was the first Seasider to receive a cap in 1923. He made two caps in total during his career, scoring once.
Bedford was followed by striker Hampson in 1930, who went on to score an impressive five times in three games for the national side.
Both Harry Johnston (10) and Tony Waiters (five) also received a handful of caps for England, while Stan Mortensen was in prolific form for his country with 23 goals from 25 games.
Blackpool’s England internationals
Harry Bedford - 1923-1924, two caps, one goal
Jimmy Hampson - 1930-1932, three caps, five goals
Harry Johnston - 1946-1953, 10 caps
Stan Mortensen - 1947-1953, 25 caps, 23 goals
Sir Stanley Matthews - 1934-1957, 54 caps, 11 goals
Eddie Shimwell - 1949, one cap
Tommy Garrett - 1952-1953, three caps
Ernie Taylor - 1953, one cap
Bill Perry - 1955-1956, three caps, two goals
Jimmy Armfield - 1959-1966, 43 caps
Ray Charnley - 1962, one cap
Tony Walters - 1964, five caps
Alan Ball - 1965-1975, 72 caps, eight goals
A further seven players who were born in Blackpool have also represented the Three Lions, with a further two from Kirkham.
These include father and son combination George Eastham Sr and George Eastham Jr.
Senior, who played for Blackpool between 1938 and 1947, won his one cap in 1935, while his son was a non-playing member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad.
The midfielder did end up winning 19 caps for the national side, scoring twice.
Kirkham-born Joe McCall and George Wilson appeared for England at the start of the 20th century, McCall scoring once in five games between 1913 and 1920 while Wilson earned 12 caps between 1921 and 1924.
Herbert Jones, Maurice Webster, Frank Swift and Malcolm Barass, all born in Blackpool, also represented their country as did Gavin McCann more recently, earning his one cap in 2001.
Players born in Blackpool and Kirkham to play for England
Joe McCall (Kirkham) - 1913-1920, five caps, one goal
George Wilson (Kirkham) - 1921-1924, 12 caps
Herbert Jones, Blackpool - 1927-1928, six caps
Maurice Webster, Blackpool - 1930, three caps
George Eastham Sr - 1935, one cap
Frank Swift, Blackpool - 1946-1949, 19 caps
Malcolm Barass, Blackpool - 1951-1953, three caps
George Eastham Jr - 1963-1966, 19 caps, two goals
Gavin McCann, Blackpool - 2001, one cap
The likes of Trevor Sinclair (12 caps), Paul Stewart (three caps) and Emlyn Hughes (62 caps, one goal) are others with strong Blackpool connections to wear the famous Three Lions.