Where did football come from?

Football. Arguably one of the most renowned and popular games in sport to play, as well as to watch. But where did this glorious game come from, why is it so popular, and most of all, who invented it?

When was football invented? 

football on pitch

The original concept of kicking a circular object around for fun with friends is a particularly old one that stems back to around 300 BC. The first game of this kind is believed to have taken place in the East of England where the ‘severed’ head of a Danish Prince, who was executed in battle, was used as what we now refer to as a football. 

The sport first started as a hobby for entertainment for the British working class, with large matches of up to 30,000 becoming popular in the late 19th century. In the second part of the century, independent football clubs began to grow and excel, particularly in London and Sheffield. As a result, Sheffield today is now recognised as the oldest surviving club in the world. 

The competitive gaming we love today all began in 1863, in England, when rugby football and association football had divided into two. This then started the formation of the Football Association in England. 

FUN FACT: Sheffield F.C were the first club to participate in professional football in England  in 1857.



When was the first record of Football?

 Football was first recorded as far back as medieval times, but the first written evidence of a football match was made around 1170, by William Fitzstephen. William documented the game being played by youths in his first trip to London. 

Where was football invented? 

It is believed the Football ball concept was adapted from the Han and Ts’in dynasties, with the Chinese playing a game called ‘tsu chu’. This consisted of balls being produced from animal skins that were kicked between two poles. 

However, people from all over the world have been playing the sport for over 3,000 years, and with evidence originating in various parts of the globe such as China, Japan, Rome and Greece it is hard to pinpoint exactly where the first kick took place. However, it is noted that the birthplace and home of modern football is in England and Scotland. 

Why is England known as the home of football?

  • The Football Association was set up in England in 1863 
  • The world’s first football club was set up in England (Sheffield F.C. in 1857).
  • England formed the first national football team and the world’s first international football match was played in England (England vs Scotland in 1872).
  • The first national football league began in England in 1888.
  • Today, there are over 40,000 registered football clubs in England – more than any other country. Brazil follows with 29,000. 
  • The Premier League (England’s top league) is one of the most known sports leagues internationally.
  • The world’s first national competition (the FA Cup) started in England in 1871.

Who invented the football ball? 

The invention of the football ball was first introduced in the early 19th century with footballs being made up of animal bladders covered in leather. However, these were later deemed to be unsuitable for the game due to the balls frequently deflating. 

In 1830, the adaptation of footballs began when Charles Macintosh, an inventor, found a way of creating thin rubber sheets. This then led to the creation of inflatable rubber for leather footballs. 

Following this, Charles Goodyear enhanced the creation of the football we know today by creating a rubber ball that was coated in various other materials to improve overall performance. 

In 1872, the Football Association decided the football should take a spherical shape with a circumference of 68 centimetres. It was also cased with leather and weigh a specific amount.  On rainy days the ball would become increasingly heavier as it tended to soak up large amounts of water. As a result, this made heading the ball painful and dangerous, with many players resulting in head injuries. 

What is a football made of? 

Today a football is made of synthetic leather such as polyurethane, which is then stitched around an inflatable leather. The footballs are usually produced in two parts; the inner bladder and outer coating. 

How do I know which football to choose? 

The first thing you need to consider before you choose your football is which surface you’re going to play on; this is key for both the ball’s durability and its playability. If you’re playing on grass you’ll just need a standard football, but if you’re looking for a football to play in a sports hall, there are specialist balls for playing indoors. Think about where you plan on spending most of your time, then go from there.

What material should the football be made of?


Synthetic leather is used to make the very finest footballs, which offer the best feel and control for players. You will also need to consider what the bladder inside is made of. Latex is used in premium balls to provide a softer feel, but latex bladders require frequent inflation. 

Whether you’re planning on organising a casual five a side game with friends, or if you need a professional football for your teams tournament, Greaves Sports has a range of both indoor and outdoor footballs from renowned brands such as Adidas, Mitre and Nike, so you can be sure you’re purchasing a product of high-quality, bounce and durability. 

Our favourite footballs at Greaves Sports 

Surface: Grass and astroturf

Name: The Finale 

The Finale has been the official football of the Champions League since 2000.  It’s been the standout option for people looking to buy the very best ‘match’ football. 


            Surface: Grass and astroturf

            Name: Mitre Delta professional

Greaves has a number of Mitre footballs to choose from. This one is particularly popular due to the fact that it holds the FIFA Pro Quality accreditation mark of a top-level ball, but carries an affordable price



Football at Greaves Sports

Greaves sports offers a wide range of men’s football clothing from the biggest brands in the industry to keep you kitted out right from training to tournament. We provide a comprehensive range of men’s football kits and men’s football boots, great for maintaining your fitness and keeping you active on the pitch. You’ll also find a substantial variety of men’s football clothing too. This consists of everything from base layers and training tops for game preparation, to shirts, shorts and socks for both on the pitch and everyday wear. As well as enabling you to look the part, we have a vast range of football equipment such as goals and nets to help you get the best out of your football game. 

Now you know where your favourite game originates, you can show off your football trivia and prepare yourself for the biggest games. Whether you’re representing your team’s colours, celebrating football history, or getting active on the pitch yourself, we have everything a football enthusiast could want and need to up their game. 

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