On 26 October 1938, Europe put together their first continental XI to challenge England. The continent’s combined forces lost 3–0.
England had split from FIFA ten years earlier over a dispute about payments for amateur players, but continued to play other nations in a series of friendlies, including a win over World Cup champions Italy in 1934 and a 6–3 pounding of Germany in Berlin during a May 1938 European tour.
The match against the European XI coincided with the 75th anniversary of the founding of England’s Football Association. 45,000 people turned out to watch the teams at London’s Highbury Stadium. England was led by captain Eddie Hapgood and his Arsenal teammate Wilf Copping. The side also included up-and-coming stars like Stoke’s Stanley Matthews, who had scored a hat-trick against Czechoslovakia the previous year. Europe, meanwhile, was led by Italy’s Silvio Piola, who had scored twice in the Azzurri’s 4–2 win over Hungary in the 1938 World Cup Final. The side included three other Italians, as well as players from Belgium, France, Norway, and Hungary.
England went up 2–0 by halftime, with goals from George Hall (20′) and Thomas Lawton (39′), before Len Goulden finished the day’s scoring in the 73rd minute.