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In 1923, at a time when the home nations had withdrawn from FIFA, the FAI was recognised by FIFA as the governing body of the Irish Free State on the condition that it changed its name to the Football Association of the Irish Free State.
The Irish FA continued to organise its national team on an all-Ireland basis.
Despite the presence of world class forward George Best, another Manchester United player, for the 1960s and 1970s, Northern Ireland failed to qualify for any major tournaments.
On 18 February 1882, 15 months after the founding of the Irish FA, Ireland made their international debut against England, losing 13–0 in a friendly played at Bloomfield in Belfast.
All four players had previously played for the FAI in their qualifiers and as a result had played for two different associations in the same FIFA World Cup tournament.
After complaints from the FAI, FIFA intervened and restricted players' eligibility based on the political border.
Between their debut and this game, they had a run of 14 defeats and 1 draw, the longest run without a win in the 1800s.
Despite the end of this run, heavy defeats continued.