England World Cup 1982
England, whose star player was Kevin Keegan, were almost pulled out of the 1982 World Cup in Spain over a potential match against ArgentinaGetty

Margaret Thatcher considered pulling all home nations football teams out of the 1982 World Cup in Spain to avoid a clash with Argentina as tensions in the Falklands escalated.

Documents released at the National Archives revealed Westminster feared diplomatic animosity between Britain and Argentina would boil onto the football pitch if either England, Scotland or Northern Ireland came up against the South American side at the tournament.

The potential boycott was even discussed by Thatcher's cabinet at the height of the Falklands War, the first landings of which were on 21 May 1982 - weeks before the World Cup tournament kicked off on 13 June.

It fell upon Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine, who also oversaw sport, to consider what the government's repsonse to a home nations side facing Argentina should be.

The papers show Heseltine eventually concluded: "My present view is that HMG [Her Majesty's Government] should not yet suggest withdrawal to the football authorities... we should be ready to adopt that course, at short notice if the situation worsens and in the light of public opinion."

As it turned out, Argentinian forces surrendered on 14 June, just hours after the tournament had officially opened.

England and Northern Ireland were ultimately knocked out of the competition in the second round, while Scotland failed to make it out of their first round group.