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The FA Cup began in the 1871-72 season, known as the Football Association Challenge Cup. An annual knockout competition, the FA Cup is open to all 10 tiers of English football and is considered the oldest tournament in football history. 

Beginning in the month of August, usually the start of the English football season, the FA Cup consists of twelve rounds followed by a semi-final and a final, which is played in May.

Wanderers FC, who were captained by the founder of the FA Cup Charles W. Alcock, won the inaugural edition in 1871-72 as they beat Royal Engineers 1-0 thanks to a goal from Morton Betts. The club would go on to win the competition five times in 10 editions.

In all, Arsenal are the most successful team in the FA Cup, having won 14 titles while Blackburn Rovers are the only team in existence to win the FA Cup three times in a row. The disbanded Wanderers initially achieved the feat between 1876 to 1878.

Arsenal, furthermore, are the team with a record 21 appearances in the FA Cup finals, having played their maiden FA Cup final against Huddersfield Town in 1930.

Until the 1992-93 season, there would be a replay of the FA Cup finals if the score was tied at the end of the original fixture.

Interestingly, the winners of the FA Cup get a direct entry into next season’s UEFA Europa League group stage even if the team is not in the English top-flight or is relegated at the end of the season. In case the FA Cup winner has already qualified for the European place through league table finish, the spot goes to the runner-up.

Furthermore, the winning team also gets a place in the next Community Shield encounter, which is traditionally played against the winners of the English Premier League before the following season begins.

FA Cup trivia

Louis Saha, then playing for Everton, has scored the fastest goal in the FA Cup final. The former striker took just 25 seconds to put his team ahead in the 2009 FA Cup final against Chelsea.

After it was decided the winner would be declared on the same day, only two FA Cup finals (2005 and 2006) have progressed to penalty shootouts.

Only one team has ever won the FA Cup while getting relegated in the same season. It was in 2013 when Wigan Athletic defeated Manchester City to win the Cup but finished 18th in the Premier League to face the drop.

Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has scored in four different FA Cup finals.

Former Arsenal and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole holds the record for the most FA Cup wins by a player. The full-back won three FA Cup titles with Arsenal and four with Chelsea, all between 2002 and 2012.

Only Arsenal (14) and Manchester United (12) have won the FA Cup on more than 10 occasions. 

Four teams, namely Wanderers FC, Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal have won consecutive FA Cups.

FA Cup winners list

Season

Winner

1871-72

Wanderers

1872-73

Wanderers

1873-74

Oxford Unversity

1874-75

Royal Engineers

1875-76

Wanderers

1876-77

Wanderers

1877-78

Wanderers

1878-89

Old Etonians

1879-80

Clapham Rovers

1880-81

Old Carthusians

1881-82

Old Etonians

1882-83

Blackburn Olympic

1883-84

Blackburn Rovers

1884-85

Blackburn Rovers

1885-86

Blackburn Rovers

1886-87

Aston Villa

1887-88

West Bromwich Albion

1888-89

Preston North End

1889-90

Blackburn Rovers

1890-91

Blackburn Rovers

1891-92

West Bromwich Albion

1892-93

Wolverhampton Wanderers

1893-94

Notts County

1894-95

Aston Villa

1895-96

The Wednesday

1896-97

Aston Villa

1897-98

Nottingham Forest

1898-99

Sheffield United

1899-1900

Bury

1900-01

Tottenham Hotspur

1901-02

Sheffield United

1902-03

Bury

1903-04

Manchester City

1904-05

Aston Villa

1905-06

Everton

1906-07

The Wednesday

1907-08

Wolverhampton Wanderers

1908-09

Manchester United

1909-10

Newcastle United

1910-11

Bradford City

1911-12

Barnsley

1912-13

Aston Villa

1913-14

Burnley

1914-15

Sheffield United

1919-20

Aston Villa

1920-21

Tottenham Hotspur

1921-22

Huddersfield Town

1922-23

Bolton Wanderers

1923-24

Newcastle United

1924-25

Sheffield United

1925-26

Bolton Wanderers

1926-27

Cardiff City

1927-28

Blackburn Rovers

1928-29

Bolton Wanderers

1929-30

Arsenal

1930-31

West Bromwich Albion

1931-32

Newcastle United

1932-33

Everton

1933-34

Manchester City

1934-35

Sheffield Wednesday

1935-36

Arsenal

1936-37

Sunderland

1937-38

Preston North End

1938-39

Portsmouth

1945-46

Derby County

1946-47

Charlton Athletic

1947-48

Manchester United

1948-49

Wolverhampton Wanderers

1949-50

Arsenal

1950-51

Newcastle United

1951-52

Newcastle United

1952-53

Blackpool

1953-54

West Bromwich Albion

1954-55

Newcastle United

1955-56

Manchester City

1956-57

Aston Villa

1957-58

Bolton Wanderers

1958-59

Nottingham Forest

1959-60

Wolverhampton Wanderers

1960-61

Tottenham Hotspur

1961-62

Tottenham Hotspur

1962-63

Manchester United

1963-64

West Ham United

1964-65

Liverpool

1965-66

Everton

1966-67

Tottenham Hotspur

1967-68

West Bromwich Albion

1968-69

Manchester City

1969-70

Chelsea

1970-71

Arsenal

 1971-72

 Leeds United

 1972-73

 Sunderland

 1973-74

 Liverpool

 1974-75

 West Ham United

 1975-76

 Southampton

 1976-77

Manchester United 

 1977-78

 Ipswich Town

 1978-79

 Arsenal

 1979-80

 West Ham United

 1980-81

 Tottenham Hotspur

 1981-82

 Tottenham Hotspur

 1982-83

 Manchester United

 1983-84

 Everton

 1984-85

 Manchester United

 1985-86

 Liverpool

 1986-87

 Coventry City

1987-88

Wimbledon

1988-89

Liverpool

1989-90

Manchester United

1990-91

Tottenham Hotspur

1991-92

Liverpool

1992-93

Arsenal

1993-94

Manchester United

1994-95

Everton

1995-96

Manchester United

1996-97

Chelsea

1997-98

Arsenal

1998-99

Manchester United

1999-2000

Chelsea

2000-01

Liverpool

2001-02

Liverpool

2002-03

Arenal

2003-04

Arsenal

2004-05

Manchester United

2005-06

Liverpool

2006-07

Chelsea

2007-08

Portsmouth

2008-09

Chelsea

2009-10

Chelsea

 2010-11

 Manchester City

2011-12

Chelsea

2012-13

Wigan Athletic

2013-14

Arsenal

2014-15

Arsenal

2015-16

Manchester United

2016-17

Arsenal

2017-18

Chelsea

2018-19

Manchester City

2019-20

Arsenal

2020-21

Leicester City

2021-22

Liverpool

Featured photo: AFP / GLYN KIRK

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