London: Historians have uncovered evidence suggesting football was played 300 years before the sport was commonly believed to have been invented, The Times reported on Tuesday.
While the first international football match took place between England and Scotland in 1872, new evidence indicates an organised form of the game was being played by royalty from as early as the 15th century.
Players used a leather-bound pig's bladder as the ball and were only allowed to use their feet in the sport.
Richard McBrearty, curator at the Scottish Football Museum in Glasgow, has also uncovered a manuscript of accounts from King James IV of Scotland indicating he paid two shillings for a bag of "fut ballis" in 1497.
"Football was more of an evolution than a 19th-century revolution," said McBrearty, who made his discovery as he re-catalogued old documents held at the National Library of Scotland, told the Times.
One record reports a match involving 20 players taking place in front of Elizabeth I in 1569 in which players kicked a ball around a 50-metre pitch where trees were used as goalposts.