Europe's most-capped men's international players: Cristiano Ronaldo extends world record
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Cristiano Ronaldo continues to break new ground as the most-capped men's player of all time after making his 198th international appearance.
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Cristiano Ronaldo has extended his world record for men's international caps after making his 198th appearance for Portugal, scoring twice in a 6-0 victory in Luxembourg. He set the new benchmark by winning his 197th cap against Liechtenstein on 23 March, marking the occasion with two goals.
Ronaldo surpassed the European landmark of 180 – set by Spain's Sergio Ramos – back in 2021, while his outing against Morocco in the 2022 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals drew him level with Bader Al-Mutawa's previous world record of 196 outings for Kuwait. Now, the 38-year-old is surging clear.
198: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)*
Europe's runaway top scorer in international games, Ronaldo moved beyond the 100-goal mark in September 2020, equalled Ali Daei's world record of 109 strikes during UEFA EURO 2020, and eclipsed it on European Qualifiers duty on 1 September 2021. The 2016 European champion Ronaldo is a year older than his ex-Madrid colleague Ramos but still seeking to add to his tally.
180 Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Ramos bettered Gianluigi Buffon's old European record of 176 caps while playing for Spain in their UEFA Nations League game in Switzerland on 14 November 2020. The youngest European man to reach 100 caps, at the age of 26 in March 2013, Ramos has two UEFA European Championship titles and one World Cup to his name. He retired in February 2023 having not appeared for his country since March 2021.
176: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
A 2006 World Cup winner with the Azzurri, Buffon made his final Italy outing in a March 2018 friendly against Argentina. That achievement surpassed the moment he beat Dino Zoff's national record of 112 caps in 2011. "When I made my Italy debut back in 1997, getting to this total was just a dream for me," he said.
167: Iker Casillas (Spain)
A goalkeeping marvel at Real Madrid, Casillas summed up his experience of playing for Spain as "Responsibility. Pride. Satisfaction. Happiness. Commitment. Respect for those who preceded me. An infinity of words – and doing everything for the Spanish fans." Like Ramos, he won two EUROs and a World Cup with his country.
166: Vitālijs Astafjevs (Latvia)
"I love football and have always loved it," said the journeyman midfielder after he played his farewell international, aged 39, in November 2010. Astafjevs's personal pinnacle came when representing Latvia at UEFA EURO 2004. "We worked a miracle, everyone was amazed," he said. "That was true happiness."
164: Luka Modrić (Croatia)*
The puppet-master rose above long-time team-mate Darijo Srna to become his nation's most-capped player in March 2021. "When will you stop playing?" wife Vanja asked the inspiration behind Croatia's run to the 2018 World Cup final. "I don't know, my love," came the reply. "You'll have to be patient for a little while more." Captained Croatia to back-to-back World Cup semi-finals when they reached the last four in 2022.
157: Martin Reim (Estonia)
"There is no way I could go on playing until I die," said midfielder Reim as he made his farewell outing – 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. Was Estonia coach from 2016 to 2019.
150: Lothar Matthäus (West Germany/Germany)
A European champion in 1980 and a World Cup winner ten years later, the midfield colossus bestrode two eras of German football. A box-to-box midfielder who played as a sweeper later in his career, Matthäus earned respect from Diego Maradona, who said: "He is the best rival I've ever faced. I guess that's all you need to know."
150: Konstantin Vassiljev (Estonia)*
The Flora midfielder, who has also played in Slovenia, Russia and Poland in his career, is seemingly improving with age. Scored 13 league goals in the 2022 season – you have to go back to 2006 for the last time he found the net more – despite turning 38 during the campaign.
147: Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)*
The 35-year-old former Ajax and Tottenham centre-back returned to his native Belgium last summer, signing for Anderlecht after two years with Benfica. He made his senior international debut in June 2007, playing the full 90 minutes in a UEFA EURO 2008 qualifier against Portugal. Nearly 16 years later, Vertonghen is still going strong.
146: Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland)
Keane bade farewell to international football in August 2016 having scored 68 goals over 18 years with the Ireland team: Ronaldo, Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, Miroslav Klose and Robert Lewandowski are the only Europeans to have scored more. "It has exceeded all the hopes I had as a football-mad boy growing up in Dublin," he said of his career.
146: João Moutinho (Portugal)*
The midfielder, who could pick a pass in his sleep, was just 18 when he made his senior international debut in 2005. His diminutive frame was a mainstay in the Seleção side for decades thereafter, his energy and passing providing the canvas for the likes of Ronaldo to dazzle. Yet to retire from international football but overlooked from recent squads.
Just behind and still playing...
140: Steven Davis (Northern Ireland)*
140: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)*
*Yet to retire from international football