After a difficult year which saw them win just one game in 12 months, Ireland will end 2018 in 33rd spot in the official FIFA World Rankings which were released on Thursday.
The Boys in Green finished bottom of their inaugural UEFA Nations League group and struggled for much of the year eventually parting company with manager Martin O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane.
On the contrary, England who reached the World Cup semi-finals losing to Croatia in Russia during the Summer, will finish the year in 5th spot cementing their place in the top five after qualifying for the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League.
Wales, who finished ahead of Ireland in their Nations League group are the only other home nation inside the world’s top 20, with Ryan Giggs’ impressive young side currently sitting in 19th spot.
Northern Ireland and Scotland are hot on the heels of Ireland with just 28 rankings points separating the sides who sit in 35th and 38th spot respectively.
Belgium will end the year as No. 1 ahead of world champions France, despite being beaten by Les Blues in the World Cup semi-finals, edging Didier Deschamps’ team by one ranking point.
Roberto Martinez’s side have 1,727 points by FIFA’s calculations to 1,726 for France. Brazil are third on 1,676.
FIFA noted on their website that France, who were ranked No. 9 last Christmas, were the year’s “Best Mover” after a “stellar 2018…having gained more points (165) since December 2017 than any other nation.”
The governing body of world football also noted that Europe and Asia have gained top-50 places at the expense of Africa.
Europe has 31, an increase of two, Asia is up one to three and Africa is down three to five top-50 representatives.
Kosovo were the biggest climbers, jumping 46 places to 131.
FIFA rankings, December 20:
35. Northern Ireland