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Most decorated football national teams in Olympics history

Thu 26 August 2021 | 19:29

Which national teams holds the highest number of gold, silver and bronze medals in the the history of Summer Olympics football? Surely the answer will surprise you all. So follow us below as we provide you with an Olympic football preview go through the history of football at the Summer Olympics.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics finally came and went after being postponed for a whole year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were tears of both sadness and joy as top athletes from all around the world competed in their respective athletic fields for a chance to stand amongst the three medal winners in the end. Interestingly enough, the Olympics was once considered to be the tournament that decided the world football champion.

Of course FIFA took matters into their own hands and introduced their very own prestigious World Cup, putting aside all the glamour of the Olympics by transferring all the history into their own tournament. Now that does not mean that

the history of Summer Olympics football

was completely erased off the face of the earth as national teams still take part in the Olympics every four years. But surely the gold medal does not hold the importance it used to anymore.

Nevertheless, a gold medal is still a gold medal and the teams that hold one of these precious metals could be considered as the most decorated football national teams in Olympics history. From Argentina and Brazil in South America, to the Great Britain, Spain and France in Europe, many or almost all of the usual big names in the world of football have managed to win valuable medals in the tournament, but only two national teams have managed to outperform the others and become the most decorated football national teams in Olympics history.

If you too are curious to know who has the most medals in football at the Summer Olympics, then read on as we provide you detailed information about the top national teams who have won the most honors in the quadrennial global tournament.

Most decorated teams in the history of Summer Olympics football

One could easily guess that nations such as Brazil, Argentina, France and Spain would be on the list of countries with the most medals in

football at the Summer Olympics

. But these nations are the only ones lucky enough to be on the list. So without further ado, here are some of the most decorated football national teams in Olympics history.

France

  • Gold: 1

  • Silver: 1

  • Bronze: 0

Perhaps many would have thought

France

would hold a much better position on the list of

most decorated football national teams in Olympics history

, but the truth is that the Frenchmen got their hands on Olympic medals only on two occasions, dating back to the 1984 and 1900 Olympics.

The country’s national football team won their one and only gold medal in the 1984 Olympics when they emerged victorious with a 2-0 win over Brazil. Both goals came in the second half as Francois Brisson and Daniel Xuereb scored in a little over five minutes to earn the win for their side. With Brazil being named the runners-up in the tournament, Yugoslavia managed to earn the third spot with a 2-1 victory over Italy a day prior to the final.

More than 101,000 people had attended the final between France and Brazil, with the game being held at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, a city in California, United States. France added the gold medal to the list of their Olympic football honors cabinet, which already held a silver medal.

The medal dates way back to the 1900 Olympics, which was in fact the very first tournament to include football amongst other sports. Only three teams were present in the competition and no actual medals were awarded in the end. But France are still considered as runners-up of the 1900 Olympics anyways after being dominated by Great Britain in a 4-0 defeat. France are without a doubt one of the most powerful nations in football, having won two World Cups alongside being one of the most decorated football national teams in Olympics history.

Nigeria

  • Gold: 1

  • Silver: 1

  • Bronze: 1

Nigeria are undoubtedly one of best nations in Africa when it comes to football. They have won three Africa Cup of Nations trophies, alongside with a long list of international honors and trophies that have crowded their trophy cabinet. Amongst all of the great achievements of the

Nigeria

national football team, three particular honors stand out a little bit more. These three are obviously the three medals that the nation have won in the Olympics throughout history.

If you take a look at the

Olympic football preview

, you would see that Nigeria’s first and most successful run dates back to the 1996 Olympics held in the United States, the same tournament that held the women’s football competition as well for the first time in Olympics history. While the women’s football gold medal obviously went to the United States, who have invested so much in their women athletes over the years, Nigeria were the one to dominate the tournament in the men’s section.

With an attendance of over 85,000 at the Sanford Stadium in Athens, Gerogia, Nigeria managed to win their very first and only gold medal in an intense and tight match against Argentina, in which they only got away with a win thanks to Emmanuel Amunike’s very late winner in the 90th minute, which resulted in a 3-2 win for Nigeria. The jam-packed stadium witnessed one of the most exciting games in the Olympics history, the iconic referee Pierluigi Collina acting as the main official of the game.

Poland

  • Gold: 1

  • Silver: 2

  • Bronze: 0

Poland

might not have one of the most successful national teams in the history of football, but they surely are one of the

most decorated football national teams in Olympics history

. Even though their number of Olympic medals does not differ from Nigeria, the color of their medals certainly does. Of course both Poland and Nigeria have won only a single gold medal in the Olympics history, but what makes Poland stand higher than their African friends is the fact that they have more silver medals than their counterparts.

While Nigeria have one medal from each colors of gold, silver and bronze, Poland have won one gold and two silver medals throughout their history. It does not take a genius to work out the math and conclude that silver is worth more than bronze, which is why Poland are one step closer to the top of the most decorated football national teams in Olympics history list.

Poland won their gold medal at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, which was filled with more than 80,000 people. The Polish got their hands on the finest of the silverware thanks to Kazimierz Deyna’s brace against Hungary in the final, which gave them a 2-1 victory on 10 September 1972. In a not-so-orthodox fashion, the third place was shared between East Germany and the Soviet Union as they drew 2-2 in the third-place playoff.

Spain

  • Gold: 1

  • Silver: 3

  • Bronze: 0

Obviously

Spain

have one of the greatest national teams when it comes to football. The nation’s golden age of winning the 2010 World Cup with the likes of Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and Xavi amongst their star-studded squad will never be forgotten by anyone. However, their World Cup success is not the only thing people talk about when Spain is their topic of discussion. The Spaniards are also one of the

most decorated football national teams in Olympics history

with one gold and three silver medals in their trophy cabinet.

With Ghana snatching the third place from the hands of Australia in the 1992 Summer Olympics, Spain managed to get their hands on their one and only gold medal after beating Poland 3-2 in the final thanks to goals from Abelardo and Kiko. The match was held at Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou stadium, which was filled with 95,000 spectators who were mostly Spaniards eager to see their national team win the tournament.

Spain’s gold medal was not the first Olympics medal they had managed to win as their first achievement dates back to the 1920 Olympics, in which they got their hands a shiny silver medal to pave the way towards becoming one of the most decorated football national teams in Olympics history.

Yugoslavia

  • Gold: 1

  • Silver: 3

  • Bronze: 1

Perhaps we don’t have a country named Yugoslavia anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the former nation of Yugoslavia can’t be on the list of most decorated football national teams in Olympics history. They topped Spain with a difference of one bronze medal, which they won back in 1984. Their first medal, however, came in 1960, when Yugoslavia went head to head against Denmark in front of more than 40,000 spectators who had gathered to watch the game in Rome. The intense match ended 3-1 in Yugoslavia’s favor thanks to goals coming from Milan Galic, Zeljko Matus and Bora Krostic.

Perhaps an Olympic football preview would show how winning the 1960 Olympics was the highest honor Yugoslavia achieved. Of course they did get to become runners-up in the 1960 and 1968 European Championships and snatch the fourth-place in the World Cup on two occasions. But being the ultimate champions is far better than being the runners-up at any tournament since no one remembers the second-place winners.

The former nation was fully dissolved in 1992 and the Yugoslavia national football team gave way to seven new national teams, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia national football teams, with the last one being considered the true and official successor of Yugoslavia by FIFA and UEFA.

Uruguay

  • Gold: 2

  • Silver: 0

  • Bronze: 0

It is no surprise that the very first winners of the World Cup would be on the list of national teams with the most medals in Olympics history.

Uruguay

won the inaugural FIFA World Cup back in 1930 after easing past Argentina with a 4-2 victory in the final thanks to goals from Pablo Dorado, Jose Pedro Cea, Victoriano Iriarte and Hector Castro. But their success in the new global tournament was predicted by many as they had emerged victorious as the champions of the world in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics that were held prior to the 1930 World Cup.

As winning the Olympics was considered becoming the world champions before the World Cup was introduced, that would in some ways mean that Uruguay have won four World Cups instead of two. However, FIFA does not seem to agree on this claim, as they have asked the Uruguay national football team to remove two of their four stars from their badge as they represent the two gold medals they won in the Olympics.

While there is still debate over the ways FIFA should approach this matter, there is no denying that Uruguay are one of the most historically rich countries in football and deserve to be recognized as such in the footballing halls of fame around the world.

Soviet Union

  • Gold: 2

  • Silver: 0

  • Bronze: 3

The Russia national football team performed admirably in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which drew the attention of many pundits who heaped praise on their performance. However, by simply performing above expectations, Russia will never reach the levels of the former Soviet Union, who managed to win two gold and three bronze medals in the Olympics. As one of the nations with the most Olympic medals, the Soviet Union won their golden honors in the 1956 and 1988 Olympics.

The first gold medal came in the 1956 Olympics in Australia, where the Soviet Union managed to narrowly get a win against Yugoslavia in the final thanks to Anatoli Ilyin’s goal in the 48th minute. They won their second gold medal in a tough battle against Brazil in the final match of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, which saw the Soviet Union emerge victorious with a 2-1 win after extra time.

Argentina

  • Gold: 2

  • Silver: 2

  • Bronze: 0

The country that gave us footballing greats such as the late

Diego Maradona

and

Lionel Messi

is without a doubt one of the best contenders to be on top of the list of nations with the most Olympic medals in football. However,

Argentina

are still lagging behind a couple of other nations as they currently hold two gold and two silver medals overall. Their first gold medal came in 2004 and their second came four years later in 2008. Their silver medals, on the other hand, date back to the 1920s and 1990s.

With Greece hosting the 2004 Olympics, Argentina managed to get their hands on some silverware after beating a tough Paraguay side 1-0 in the final thanks to Carlos Tevez’s goal in the 18th minute. The match was held at the Olympic Stadium in Marousi, Greece, with more than 41,000 spectators attending the final game of the tournament. Interestingly, Italy came in third after beating Iraq 1-0 in the third-place playoff and went on to become world champions two years later in the 2006 World Cup.

Argentina’s second gold medal in the Olympics was also won with a single goal. In a match held at the National Stadium in Beijing and in front of a crowd of 89,000 people, the Argentinians managed to snatch a victory against Nigeria thanks to a goal from Angel Di Maria in the 58th minute. Their archrivals Brazil came in third that year and added a bronze medal to their collection.

Brazil

  • Gold: 2

  • Silver: 3

  • Bronze: 2

Brazil

are literally the most successful country in the whole world when it comes to football as they are the most decorated nation with five World Cups. That alone deserves its very own standing ovation, but the Brazilians have also added several other trophies to their trophy cabinet over the years. With their senior national team dominating the world of football on so many occasions, Brazil have won two gold medals alongside three silver and two bronze medals throughout the Olympics history.

In fact, they only recently managed to climb up the list of most decorated nations in Olympics history after the winning the gold medal in the postponed version of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which went underway a couple of weeks ago. Brazil won their first gold medal in 2016 and added their second with a 2-1 win over Spain after Malcom scored the winner in the extra time.

Great Britain

  • Gold: 3

  • Silver: 0

  • Bronze: 0

Great Britain actually co-hold the record for most gold medals won in the Olympics history alongside their surprise rivals Hungary. Of course their Olympics success dates way back to the early decades of the 20th century as they rarely ever compete in the football Olympics anymore.

The country, which is a union of England, Scotland and Wales, won their first gold medal at the turn of the century in the year 1900 and went on to add two more gold medals in 1908 and 1912. They won their third and last gold medal in the Olympics with a 3-0 win over Austria thanks to goals from Gordon Hoare, Harold Walden and Arthur Berry.

Hungary

  • Gold: 3

  • Silver: 1

  • Bronze: 1

Perhaps very few would remember the days that that Hungary used to be actually good in football as their prime days date back to late-1930s and mid-1950s. Even though Hungary were never able to win the World Cup and had to settle for a runners-up position on the two occasions that they made it to the final, they are still the most decorated nation in Olympics football history with three gold, one silver and one bronze medals.

They won their very last gold medal in football after easing past Bulgaria with a 4-1 victory in the final, which was held at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and had more than 75,000 attendees. Hungary’s victory was made possible thanks to goals from Ivan Menczel, Antal Dunai and Istvan Juhasz. Now, we will have to wait and see if or when Hungary’s record as the most decorated national football team in Olympics history is would be broken anytime soon.

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