The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1920, all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association (IFA). In 1921, the jurisdiction of the IFA was reduced to Northern Ireland following the secession of clubs in the soon-to-be Irish Free State, although its team remained the national team for all of Ireland until 1950, and used the name Ireland until the 1970s. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) organises the separate Republic of Ireland national football team.
Although part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has always had a representative side that plays in major professional tournaments – whether alongside the rest of Ireland pre-1922 or as its own entity – though not in the Olympic Games, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has always recognised United Kingdom representative sides.
Northern Ireland has competed in three FIFA World Cups, reaching the quarter-final stage in the 1958 and 1982 tournaments. Northern Ireland held the accolade of being the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup Finals from their first appearance in 1958 until 2006, when Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the 2006 World Cup. At UEFA Euro 2016, the team made its first appearance at the European tournament and reached the round of 16.
Windsor Park is a football stadium in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is the home ground of Linfield FC and tenants Northern Ireland national football team, and is also where the Irish Cup final is played.
Named after the district in south Belfast in which it is located, Windsor Park was first opened in 1905, with a match between Linfield and Glentoran. The first major development of the stadium took place in the 1930s, to a design made by the Scottish architect Archibald Leitch. It had one main seated stand - the Grandstand, later known as the South Stand - with "reserved" terracing in front, and a large open terrace behind the goal to the west called the Spion Kop. To the north, there was a long covered terrace – the "unreserved" terracing – and behind the eastern goal at the Railway End another covered terrace. Windsor Park's peak capacity in this format was 60,000. In the early 1960s, the seated Railway Stand was built at the Railway End, and in the early 1970s a social club and viewing lounge was constructed in the corner between the Railway Stand and the Grandstand. In the 1980s, the 'unreserved terrace' was demolished and replaced by a two-tier, 7000-seat North Stand. In the late 1990s, the Kop terrace was demolished and replaced with a 5000-seater Kop Stand. The Kop Stand was known as the Alex Russell Stand from 2004–2008 in honour of Linfield's former goalkeeper and coach and one-time Northern Ireland international, but reverted to being named 'The Kop Stand' following this.