The gloomy record of San Marino in international football
Although San Marino claims to be the oldest sovereign state of the world, with a constitution in place since 1600 A.D. that is still in effect, it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a GDP comparable to most developed countries. It is also known to have the smallest population in the European Union, which is indeed so small that it has the distinction of having more cars in the country than people!
Located in the Italian peninsula, football is the most popular sport in San Marino, as it is in Italy. But they haven't been as fortunate as their Italian counterparts when it comes to success in the field of football, on the contrary, they've been instrumental in the success of other teams.
Though San Marino’s football federation was formed in 1931, a national football team wasn’t established until 1986. They soon gained affiliation with FIFA and UEFA in 1988 and played in the qualifiers for European Championship.
Just to bring things to perspective, San Marino's national football team have won just one out of the 131 matches played since 1990 and have a goal difference of minus 528. Starting to feel pretty gloomy now, doesn't it?
San Marino’s first match in international football
Their first official international match was fixed against Switzerland in November 1990, and San Marino suffered a 4-0 defeat at home in the qualifiers for European Championship of 1992.
On the other hand, San Marino actually played Their first unofficial match was against the Canadian Olympic football team in 1986, they lost that too with a scoreline of 1-0.
Sole Win and their Worst Defeat
The only win recorded by San Marino's national football team came in a home match against Liechtenstein in 2004, a 1-0 victory with Andy Selva, the teams only pro player, scoring.
Their worst defeat came against Germany in 2006, when they were thrashed 13-0 at their home ground Stadio Olimpico with a record number of 5019 attendees in a 2008 European Cup qualifier match.
Conceding more and scoring less
In 131 matches, San Marino has scored 22 goals and conceded 550, winning only once and drawing four times. Though they don’t hold a record for the maximum goals scored, they’re undoubted winners in the conceded category.
A goal difference of -528 means that the minnows conceded at least 4 goals in every game. The Netherlands national football team scored a record number of 39 goals in six matches against San Marino and Belgium are the next highest scoring team with 33 goals in as many matches. Poland have also scored 33 goals, although those came in 8 matches against the Sammarinese while England have managed to score 31 times in 6 games.
Despite struggling to score goals on a regular basis, there has been one man who has tried to help with San Marino’s cause over the years. Andy Selva (39), the lone pro-player of the team, holds the record for most caps (71) and goals scored (8) in the international circuit for San Marino.
Best moments so far
In November 1993, San Marino’s national football team shared a glorious moment when they scored the fastest goal in a World Cup competition against England after just 8.3 seconds. This goal was scored by David Gualtieri, which would be his only goal in international football. This record still stands unbeaten till date, although the match didn’t end as well for San Marino as it had begun.
England won that match 7-1 with four goals coming from the foot of Ian Wright, a result which was echoed when the Three Lions enjoyed a similar 6-goal margin win against them at Wembley recently.
Another huge moment in the recent history of San Marino came about in the Euro 2016 qualifiers when they knocked in their first away goal after 14 years against Lithuania. The goal gave them a 1-0 lead and set them up for a rare victory, but their opposition came back into the match to inflict a 2-1 defeat at the end of the 90 minutes.
The last time San Marino scored an away goal before that was in 2001 against Latvia, which was also the first time they had gained their first ever away point, drawing the game 1-1.
FIFA ranking through the years
Since they've joined in 1990, their best highest Fifa ranking was 118 in 1993, since then they've only dipped in form and ranking. They currently hold 193 position with their worst ranking coming in 2014, when they were positioned in the last place at 208.
They shared the foot of the table with Bhutan till November 2014, although a 0-0 draw with Estonia shortly after lifted them from the bottom.