Who Has the Most Caps in Soccer? Exploring the Record Holders

Soccer enthusiasts around the world have been asking the same question for decades: who has the most caps in soccer? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. The player with the most caps in soccer could vary depending on the source of information you consult, as criteria for what counts as a “cap” can differ from country to country and even tournament to tournament. However, a few players have risen above the rest to claim their spots among the most-capped players in soccer history.

One player who often comes up in conversations about the most-capped players in soccer is Ahmed Hassan of Egypt. According to some sources, Hassan has played in over 184 international matches throughout his career, making him one of the world’s most experienced soccer players. His achievements as a midfielder have helped lead Egypt to some notable successes, including four African Cup of Nations titles. But Hassan is not the only player who can claim to be among the most-capped soccer players in history. There are a handful of other names that soccer fans will recognize as among the legends of the sport.

So, who truly holds the title of the most-capped player in soccer? The answer may depend on who you ask, but there are a few players who consistently make the list. From the stalwart defenders who spent decades guarding the backline to the midfielders who orchestrated their teams’ attacks, the most-capped soccer players in history have each brought something unique and valuable to the game. Their achievements provide inspiration and an example to younger players who dream of following in their footsteps. For soccer fans everywhere, the question of who has the most caps in soccer remains one that sparks spirited debates and deepens our appreciation of the sport’s greatest players.

Top 10 soccer players with the most caps

When it comes to the world of soccer, caps are used to measure the number of times a player has represented their national team in an international match. These caps are highly sought after, and they represent a significant accomplishment for any footballer. In this article, we will be looking at the top 10 soccer players with the most caps.

  • 1. Ahmed Hassan – 184 caps
  • 2. Mohamed Al-Deayea – 178 caps
  • 3. Claudio Suárez – 178 caps
  • 4. Ivan Hurtado – 168 caps
  • 5. Hossam Hassan – 169 caps
  • 6. Bader Al-Mutawa – 163 caps
  • 7. Adnan Al-Talyani – 161 caps
  • 8. Ahmed Mubarak – 159 caps
  • 9. Cobi Jones – 164 caps
  • 10. Gianluigi Buffon – 176 caps

The number one spot belongs to the Egyptian midfielder Ahmed Hassan, with a staggering 184 caps. Ahmed played for the Egyptian national team for an incredible 18 years, from 1995 to 2013. During that time, he represented the Pharaohs in four World Cups and eight African Cup of Nations tournaments.

During his career, Ahmed Hassan was often compared to his legendary compatriots Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Aboutrika. However, it was Ahmed’s longevity and consistency that allowed him to surpass every other player in terms of caps, cementing his place as the most capped player in soccer history.

Evolution of international soccer caps

The number of appearances for a national soccer team has been known as “caps” for almost a century now. It’s interesting to see how international caps have evolved over time, with changes in eligibility criteria, tournament rules, and more.

Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of international soccer caps:

  • Pre-World War II: Before World War II, caps were not a standardized figure, with rules for international appearances differing from country to country. Most countries had a diverse range of eligibility criteria, including residency requirements or even bloodlines. This led to some players earning caps for multiple countries.
  • Post-World War II: After the war, FIFA took steps to standardize the counting of caps universally. The governing body recommended that international matches should be treated as “full internationals” and would count towards a player’s cap tally.
  • The present day: Today, caps have become an essential part of a player’s footballing career. For most countries, a senior international appearance is considered the highest honor for a footballer. Caps are now the standardized format of recognising the number of appearances for a specific national team.

The top players with the most international caps

As for the players, you might be surprised to learn who holds the record for most international caps. Here are the top five players with the most international caps in football history:

# Player Caps Country
1 Ahmed Hassan 184 Egypt
2 Christiano Ronaldo 180 Portugal
3 Lothar Matthaus 150 Germany
4 Iker Casillas 167 Spain
5 Mohamed Al-Deayea 178 Saudi Arabia

It’s worth noting that Cristiano Ronaldo still has time to surpass Ahmed Hassan’s record, considering he’s only four caps behind him, and still actively playing international football. He already holds the record for most international goals scored (118 goals), so one would believe that he could eventually reach the top spot.

Active players with the most international caps

As of 2021, some of the world’s top soccer players are still actively playing for their respective national teams, accumulating more international appearances and cementing their status as legends of the sport.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo – The all-time leading goal scorer for Portugal has also earned the most caps for his country with 180 appearances.
  • Luka Modric – The Croatian midfielder has been an instrumental figure for his national team, earning 138 caps so far.
  • Sergio Ramos – The former captain of Spain has represented his country a staggering 180 times and is considered one of the best defenders of his generation.

Other notable active players with high international caps include Lionel Messi (146 caps for Argentina), Ahmed Hassan (184 caps for Egypt), and Ali Mabkhout (94 caps for UAE).

Comparison of international caps for top active players

Player National Team Caps
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 180
Ahmed Hassan Egypt 184
Luka Modric Croatia 138
Ali Mabkhout UAE 94
Sergio Ramos Spain 180

These players have shown remarkable dedication and commitment to their national teams, leaving an indelible mark in the history of soccer. As they continue to make appearances and break records, their contributions to the sport will be forever remembered.

Women’s soccer players with the most caps

When it comes to caps (international appearances) in women’s soccer, the all-time leader is Kristine Lilly of the United States, with a remarkable 354 caps. She played for the USWNT from 1987 to 2010, winning two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals along the way. Lilly was known for her versatility, playing both as a midfielder and a forward, as well as her incredible endurance and fitness.

  • 1. Kristine Lilly (USA) – 354 caps
  • 2. Christie Rampone (USA) – 311 caps
  • 3. Birgit Prinz (Germany) – 214 caps
  • 4. Formiga (Brazil) – 201 caps

Formiga, who recently became the first soccer player, male or female, to participate in seven different Olympic Games, is one of the most accomplished players in Brazilian soccer history. She made her international debut in 1995, and has played at five World Cups, and six Olympics (winning two silver medals).

Rank Player Nationality Caps
1 Kristine Lilly USA 354
2 Christie Rampone USA 311
3 Birgit Prinz Germany 214
4 Formiga Brazil 201

It’s worth noting that while the USWNT has dominated women’s soccer in recent years, they don’t have a monopoly on players with high numbers of caps. Germany’s Birgit Prinz, for example, won three consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year awards (2003-2005) and has four World Cup appearances to her name. Regardless of nationality, any player with more than 100 caps has had an impressive international career.

How Caps are Earned in International Soccer

Getting a call-up to represent one’s country on the international stage is a dream come true for any soccer player. But how do they earn those oh-so-valuable caps that they wear with pride on their chests? Here are the five ways a player can earn a cap while playing for their national team.

  • Starting an international match – The most common way to earn a cap is to start a game for your national team. Once a player is named in the starting lineup, they’re awarded a cap.
  • Coming on as a substitute – If a player doesn’t start the match but comes on as a substitute, they’re still eligible for a cap. This is known as a “caps won off the bench.”
  • Playing a minimum of minutes – To prevent players from receiving caps merely by stepping onto the pitch and immediately being substituted out, most countries have a minimum playing time requirement. This is generally somewhere between 15 and 45 minutes.
  • Playing in a FIFA-recognized match – International friendlies aren’t the only matches where a player can earn a cap. Matches in major tournaments like the World Cup and regional competitions like the Euros and Copa America also count.
  • Playing against a FIFA-recognized team – Finally, to ensure that matches against weak opposition aren’t considered official, a national team must play against another FIFA-recognized team to award caps.

So next time you see a player with a high cap total, remember that it’s not just a measure of how long they’ve been on the national team but also how many games they’ve played, how many times they’ve started, and how many minutes they’ve logged.

Records set by players with the most international caps

The number of appearances a player has made for their national team is often used as a barometer of their worth, as well as a measure of their longevity and consistency in the sport. Here are some of the records set by players with the most international caps:

  • The current men’s record for the most international caps is held by Ahmed Hassan of Egypt, with 184 caps.
  • The current women’s record for the most international caps is held by Kristine Lilly of the United States, with 354 caps.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo is the European record holder for the most international caps amongst male footballers, with 190 caps for Portugal.

Here is a table listing some of the other players who have set records for the most international appearances:

Player Country Total Caps
Bader Al-Mutawa Kuwait 178
Lotta Schelin Sweden 185
Iker Casillas Spain 167
Wadud Miah Bangladesh 163
Mohamed Al-Deayea Saudi Arabia 178

These players have not only been able to stay healthy and consistent throughout their careers but have also demonstrated an impressive level of dedication and commitment to their national teams. Their records are a testament to their hard work and passion for the sport, as well as their ability to perform at the highest level over an extended period of time.

Impact of injury and retirement on caps records

Injuries and retirements can significantly affect a player’s total number of caps in soccer. This section will explore how these factors have impacted the players with the most caps in soccer history.

  • Paolo Maldini – the former Italian defender retired from international soccer in 2002, at the age of 34. At that time, he held the record for the most caps earned by an Italian player, with 126 appearances for the national team. Had he continued to play for a few more years, he could have potentially added many more caps to his record.
  • Gigi Buffon – another Italian player, Buffon is the current record holder for the most caps earned by a European player, with a staggering 176 appearances for Italy. Despite his longevity, Buffon’s caps record was slightly impacted by injuries. In 2006, he missed out on the World Cup due to a dislocated shoulder, and in 2010, he was sidelined with a sciatic nerve problem. Had he not suffered from these injuries, he could have potentially surpassed the overall caps record.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo – the Portuguese superstar currently has the second-most appearances for his national team, with 170 caps. Despite playing at the top level since the early 2000s, Ronaldo has managed to avoid major injuries and has maintained an exceptional level of fitness, allowing him to consistently participate in international matches. However, he is now 36 years old, and there is a chance that he may retire from international soccer in the near future.

Injury and retirement can also open the door for other players to overtake caps records. For example, Canadian international footballer Christine Sinclair recently overtook Abby Wambach’s record for the most goals scored in international soccer. Wambach retired in 2015, while Sinclair has continued to play and score goals for her national team.

Caps records can also be impacted by changes in the way international matches are structured. For example, in the past, international friendlies were much more common than they are today. Nowadays, most international matches have a specific purpose, such as qualifying for a major tournament or competing in a tournament itself. This means that players have fewer opportunities to accumulate caps, which can make it more difficult to break records.


Player Total Caps Last Match Played Gigi Buffon 176 November 17, 2017 Ali Daei 149 February 19, 2006 Cristiano Ronaldo 170 Ongoing Xavi 133 June 27, 2014 Iker Casillas 167 June 22, 2016

In conclusion, injuries and retirements can have a significant impact on the number of caps a player earns in their career. While they may initially hold records, these records can be broken by other players who continue to play at a high level and avoid injuries. The changing landscape of international soccer also means that caps records may become more difficult to break in the future.

Who has the most caps in soccer?

1. What does the term “caps” mean in soccer?
In soccer, a cap refers to the number of times a player represents their national team in an international match.

2. Who holds the record for the most caps in soccer history?
The record for most international caps is currently held by retired Egyptian footballer Ahmed Hassan, with a total of 184 caps.

3. Who else is close to breaking the record for most caps in soccer?
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal is the closest active player to breaking the record, with 173 caps as of May 2021.

4. What countries have the most players with over 100 caps?
Germany and Mexico are the countries with the highest number of players who have reached or surpassed 100 caps.

5. How long did it take for Ahmed Hassan to set the record for most international caps?
Ahmed Hassan set the record for most international caps over a 20-year career period, from 1995 to 2015.

6. How does the number of caps a player has impact their legacy in soccer?
Having many caps for a national team is often seen as a sign of both skill and loyalty to a player’s country, and can greatly impact their legacy in the sport.

Closing: Thanks for joining us on our journey through soccer history!

We hope you enjoyed learning about who holds the record for the most caps in soccer, and some interesting facts about national team representation in the sport. Remember to keep following along for more exciting articles on all things soccer, and thanks for visiting!