England take on Japan in Austria on Sunday afternoon in what will be Fabio Capello’s last chance to see his side in action before the World Cup kicks off in just two weeks time.
The Three Lions have returned to Austria to continue their preparations for the summer tournament and will take on Japan in a friendly in Graz in what will be only the third ever meeting between the two nations.
Both previous matches were also friendlies and both took place in England so this will be the sides first ever meeting on neutral ground.
The first meeting was in 1995 as part of the Umbro Cup, a four-team tournament organised as a trial run ahead of the Euro ’96 finals due to be hosted in England.
The Three Lions took on Japan in the opening game at Wembley and triumphed 2-1 thanks to a late David Platt penalty, his 25th goal for this country, just three minutes from time.
Darren Anderton had given the home side the lead just after half-time before Masami Ihari equalised for the visitors.
The match saw Terry Venables award debuts to four players; Gary Neville, John Scales, David Unsworth and Stan Collymore.
It turned out to be Unsworth’s one and only cap for England whilst Scales played only twice more, both also in the Umbro Cup against Sweden and then Brazil who eventually won the tournament.
2004 saw Japan return to England to participate a three-team competition, the 2004 FA Summer Tournament , as part of England’s preparations for Euro 2004.
The sides met at the newly opened City of Manchester Stadium and ended in a 1-1 draw.
England had started the brighter of the two sides and saw a John Terry header from a corner cleared off the line before Michael Owen pounced on 22 minutes after the Japanese ‘keeper had fumbled a Steven Gerrard shot from distance.
Just like Platt nine years before it was also Owen’s 25th goal for England.
However, Japan responded well and tested David James in the England goal on several occasions with long range efforts before drawing level early in the second half, Shinji Ono finishing off a well worked effort.
The visitors finished the stronger side but neither team could muster a winner as Sven Goran Erikkson rested his key men with eight substitutions in the final quarter of an hour.
Nine of England’s current 30-man provisional World Cup squad featured that day with James, Ashley Cole, Terry, Gerrard, Lampard, and Rooney starting while Heskey, Joe Cole and Ledley King came off the bench.
Japan had beaten Iceland 3-2 in the previous game but England won the tournament on goal difference when they brushed Iceland aside 6-1 in the final game.
England ’s overall record vs. Japan
P2 W1 D1 L0 F3 A2