Gianluigi Buffon won his 168th Italy cap in their 2-0 win against Albania, surpassing the European record set by Iker Casillas in June. We look at the top 12.
Gianluigi Buffon won his 168th Italy cap in Friday's 2-0 European Qualifiers Group G victory over Albania in Palermo, moving past fellow goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who himself eclipsed Vitālijs Astafjevs's continental record when Spain played South Korea last June.
We look at the 12 Europeans with the most international appearances, with one of Casillas's countrymen also scaling the rankings.
- World record: Ahmed Hassan (Egypt) 184
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) – 168* Buffon's tally of 168 caps has not only set a new European mark, it is also the most of any active international in the world and, what's more, the Albania game was his 1,000th professional match. This latest achievement surpasses the moment he beat Dino Zoff's national record of 111 caps in 2011. "When I made my Italy debut back in 1997, getting to this total was just a dream for me," he said at the time. Even at 39, Buffon – who lifted the 2006 FIFA World Cup with the Azzurri – will hope to have further career milestones ahead.
Iker Casillas (Spain) – 167*
A goalkeeping marvel at Real Madrid, and still soldiering on with Porto, Casillas has made clear how special it is to play for Spain. "Responsibility. Pride. Satisfaction. Happiness. Commitment. Respect for those who have preceded me. An infinity of words – and doing everything for the Spanish fans," he said. With David de Gea established as first choice, however, Casillas has been unable to add to the 167th cap he won in June.
Vitālijs Astafjevs (Latvia) – 166
"I love football and have always loved it," said the journeyman midfielder after he played his final international, aged 39, in November 2010. Astafjevs's personal pinnacle came when he represented Latvia at UEFA EURO 2004. "We worked a miracle, everyone was amazed," he said. "That was true happiness."
Martin Reim (Estonia) – 156
"There is no way I could go on playing until I die," said midfielder Reim as he made his farewell appearance – aged 38 – in 2009, ending a 17-year run in the national team. Save for a brief spell with Finland's KooTeePee, the Flora Tallinn stalwart spent his entire club career in his homeland.
Lothar Matthäus (Germany/West Germany) – 150
A UEFA European Championship winner in 1980 and a World Cup winner in 1990, the midfield colossus bestrode two eras of German football. Diego Maradona said of him: "He is the best rival I've ever faced. I guess that's all you need to know."
Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland) 146
Keane bade farewell to international football in August, having scored 68 goals over 18 years with the Ireland team. Only Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis and Miroslav Klose have managed more, though Cristiano Ronaldo pulled level with Keane on Sunday.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Ukraine) – 144
UEFA EURO 2016 was the end of the line at international level for Tymoshchuk, who reached 100 caps in 2010. In 2011 the midfielder was voted Ukraine's best post-independence player.
Anders Svensson (Sweden) – 143
The midfielder and free-kick specialist called off his international career in November 2013, noting: "It's time for me to step aside and make room for younger players." 'Taco-Anders' – nicknamed after his favourite food – featured at two World Cups and two UEFA European Championships.
Thomas Ravelli (Sweden) – 143
The goalkeeper with the distinctive stare thrived on the biggest stage. "When I had to play with a knife to my throat, then I played the best matches," he said. "I needed that pressure."
Lilian Thuram (France) – 142
Thuram won the 1998 World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 as part of an epochal France side, eventually playing on until he was 36. "If there is a header to win or a ball to force in, I'll be there," said the Guadeloupe-born defender, christened 'Le Sage' (the Wise Man) in France.
Marko Kristal (Estonia) – 142
In his own words "a jolly person by nature", Kristal was well loved as an international midfielder from 1992 until his retirement in April 2005, by which time he had given up tallying his appearances. "When it came close to 100 it was interesting, but after that I lost count," he said.
Sergio Ramos (Spain) – 141*
The youngest European to reach 100 caps, at the age of 26 in March 2013, Ramos certainly has time to break more records, with two UEFA European Championships and one World Cup title already to his name.
*yet to retire from international football