The World’s Most Stunning National Team Stadiums
National team stadiums are something of a foreign concept in the United States, where both the men’s and women’s sides play matches from Carson, California, to Foxborough, Massachusetts, and everywhere in-between. Other national teams have a similar approach — Germany, Brazil and Spain among them — but there’s something magical about a fixed location, be it the glamor of England at Wembley, the history of Mexico at the Azteca or the ferocity of Argentina at El Monumental.
While the aforementioned are must-see grounds for football fans around the globe, there are some overlooked and underrated national team stadiums that would certainly be worth a visit if the opportunity presented itself.
Here are some of the best national stadiums that fly under the radar.
The Best National Team Stadiums
Albania: Air Albania Stadium
Opened: Nov. 17, 2019
The Albania national team is ranked 66th in the world, but its national stadium is a UEFA four-star ground that features a stunning design and the tallest tower in Albania in one corner.
Hungary: Puskás Aréna
Opened: Nov. 15, 2019
The site of four upcoming Euro 2020 matches and the 2023 Europa League final, the stadium infamously went way over budget and ended up costing more than $700 million.
South Africa: Soccer City
Opened: Renovated in 2009
"The Calabash" was the showpiece of the 2010 World Cup, hosting the final between Spain and the Netherlands. It was also the site of Nelson Mandela's first speech after his release from prison in 1990, the location of his final public appearance in 2010 and the venue for his memorial service in 2013.
Taiwan: National Stadium
Opened: May 2009
Home to the Chinese Taipei national team, this stadium in Kaohsiung is not only shaped like a dragon, the vast external face is covered in solar panels that generate most of the power needed for its own operation.
Turkmenistan: Ashgabat Olympic Stadium
Opened: Renovated in 2017
You see that on the north end of the stadium? That's a 600-ton horse head fitted with a massive torch.
Uzbekistan: Milliy Stadium
Opened: September 28, 2012
As well as being the home of the Uzbekistan national team, the stadium also hosts FC Bunyodkor matches. The Tashkent-based club was actually Rivaldo's home between 2008 and 2010, and the Brazilian climbed as high as third on the team's all-time scoring list over that short period.
Zambia: National Heroes Stadium
The name of the ground — National Heroes Stadium — is in homage to the 1993 Zambia national team plane crash. En route to a World Cup qualifier in Senegal, the aircraft carrying most of the national team went down shortly after take off, claiming the lives of all 25 passengers and five crew members.
Bolivia: Estadio Hernando Siles
Opened: Renovated in 1977
What’s the most difficult match on the planet? The talents of Les Bleus at the Stade de France? No, it’s Bolivia at 12,000 feet.
Costa Rica: Estadio Nacional
Opened: March 26, 2011
The place where European hotshots dare not go, the USMNT has lost nine straight in San Jose for good reason.
Opened: September 9, 1992
A UEFA four-star stadium that gets cracking, but the true treasure here is Denmark's only Michelin three-star restaurant, Geranium, located on the eighth floor.
El Salvador: Estadio Cuscatlán
Opened: Renovated in 2011
The largest football stadium in Central America, so it's only right that it was also once the site of the World Record for the most people brushing their teeth at the same time until India snatched it away in 2019.
Austria: Ernst Happel Stadion
Opened: Renovated in 1986
The historic ground was the site of the Euro 2008 final — won by Spain over Germany — and has hosted four Champions League finals, most recently Ajax's win over Milan in 1995.
Azerbaijan: Baku Olympic Stadium
Opened: March 6, 2015
This radiantly colorful ground went global after Qarabağ was grouped with Roma, Chelsea and Atlético in the 2017-18 Champions League, and it was also the site of Chelsea’s Europa League final thrashing of Arsenal in 2019.
Romania: Arena Națională
Opened: September 6, 2011
With a retractable roof and UEFA four-star rating, this stadium in Bucharest was selected to host the 2012 Europa League Final between Atlético and Athletic Bilbao.
Malaysia: Bukit Jalil National Stadium
Opened: Renovated in 2017
The eighth-largest football stadium in the world, it was given a facade renovation in 2017 by Populous (the people behind Tottenham's new stadium).
(Photos via Wikimedia Commons.)