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Who has the most yellow cards in football history?

Fri 16 October 2020 | 12:30

Yellow cards have been an inevitable part of modern football with some players becoming totally familiar with the referee’s notebook.

A yellow card is shown by the referee to indicate that a player has been officially cautioned. The player may continue playing in the game; however, if they receive a second caution in a match, they are sent off by showing the yellow card again, and then a red card!

Football is a very emotional game and thus the players usually go out of their minds and commit fouls that harm others on the field of play. Yellow cards were introduced in the 1970 World Cup half a century ago.

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Players are booked with a red card because of a tactical foul, dissent, or these days, for simulation.

With all these in view, it is extremely difficult to encounter a football player that has never been booked (even a yellow card) in their entire playing career.

Even the most gentle and cool tempered players occasionally do go off, become moody, act with some rash impulse and the excessive flow of adrenaline. There are many ways in which footballers can pick up a yellow card in football.

Think of cool headed players like

Lionel Messi

; he has been shown the yellow card in quite a number of matches (especially the El clasico) because

Sergio Ramos

knew how to infuriate him.

Messi have even received two red cards in his entire career; one on his debut for Argentina national team and the other recently in Copa America 2019 in third place match against Chile.

And Zinedine Zidane also had his fare share in bookings; in fact he ended his glorious football career with a red card since he wouldn’t be playing anymore, he had to do 80 hours community work to pay for that.

Here are the players with the most yellow cards in football history:

Notable booked players are Sergio Ramos with double figures for both yellow and red cards (he is now the most cautioned player in UCL history).

Sergio Ramos- 259 yellow cards

Sergio Ramos García, born 30 March 1986, is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for and captains both

Real Madrid

and the Spanish national team as a center back. He has also played as a right back earlier in his career.

Ramos is widely regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation, and has also received praise for his passing and goalscoring capabilities

Ramos is the undisputed leader of the ranking having the record of the

most yellow cards in football history

. The Real Madrid captain picked up 259 yellow cards in 873 games – and was sent off 26 times at club level alone. More than 200 bookings were picked up by just two other players in this millennium, who also spent a long time in Spain. Ramos is recognized as the player with the highest number of yellow cards.

Gerardo Torrado- 228 yellow cards

Gerardo Torrado Díez de Bonilla, born 30 April 1979, is a former Mexican professional footballer who played as a midfielder and current sporting director of the Mexican Football Federation.

He is known as "El Borrego" ("The Sheep") for his bushy hair. His style of playing is commonly known to be rough in the field but with good recovery of the ball and effective passing abilities.

Born in Mexico City, Torrado began his career with UNAM in 1997. After a few years playing in Spain, he became a Cruz Azul player in 2005, débuting against Monarcas Morelia where he scored the two goals in the 2–0 win for Cruz Azul.

He rapidly emerged as one of the most important players in the squad. An aggressive midfielder, Torrado has gotten many red and yellow cards in his career.

He has captained the team since 2006, and has led the team to three league finals and a CONCACAF Champions League final in 2009, and on 26 April 2014 he became CONCACAF champion for the first time in his career with Cruz Azul.

The Mexican picked up 147 and 13 reds during his time at Cruz Azul. A short spell at Sevilla earned him seven yellows and two reds so it’s sensible why his name is on the list of the

most yellow cards in football history.

Dani Alves- 210 yellow cards

The most decorated player in football history, Alves’ career in European football saw him become arguably the finest full-back of his generation, collecting a wealth of major honors at super-clubs including Barcelona, Juventus and

Paris Saint-Germain


It would be at the former where he would truly thrive, however, winning six domestic league titles and the Champions League on three occasions, and he would become a familiar name to both opposition sides and European referees.

Alves would be cautioned on 27 occasions throughout his Champions League appearances, including in Barcelona’s 2011 final victory over Manchester United at Wembley. Alves is among the

players with the highest number of yellow cards.

Xabi Alonso- 197 yellow cards

Xabier Alonso Olano, born 25 November 1981, is a Spanish football manager and former professional player who played as a central midfielder. He is the manager of Segunda División B club Real Sociedad B.

Against Chelsea, Alonso received a yellow card in a tense and scrappy 0–0 draw at Stamford Bridge, making him suspended for the following fixture. Alonso was distraught that he would miss the game and vehemently contested the referee's decision to no avail.

Gerrard returned from injury for the second leg, however, and the captain steered his team to a 1–0 win with the help of a Luis García goal, qualifying for the final against Milan.

One of the most technically gifted footballers in history picked up almost 200 yellow cards to get a place on the list of the players with the highest number of yellow cards.

Daniele Conti- 190 yellow cards

Daniele Conti, born 9 January 1979, is an Italian football manager and former player, who played most of his career for Cagliari as a midfielder; he currently works as a co-ordinator for the club's youth side.

He is the son of former A.S. Roma and Italy star Bruno Conti, and the younger brother of fellow footballer Andrea Conti.

Contini played for a whole host of Italian clubs and it looked his sole responsibility was to kick people. His most yellows came at Parma, where he received 36 and was recognized as one of the

players with most yellow cards in football history.

Gabi- 189 yellow cards

Gabriel Fernández Arenas, born 10 July 1983, known as Gabi, is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder.

Gabi was born in Madrid. A product of Atlético Madrid's youth system, he was seldom used during his debut season with the Colchoneros' first team.

After a loan to another club in the capital, Getafe CF, he would amass 52 La Liga appearances for the club from 2005 to 2007, scoring his only goal in a 1–1 away draw against RCD Espanyol on 9 April 2006.

Gabi had no doubt to please Diego Simone at Atletico Madrid by picking up 122 yellows and eight reds to be recognized as a player with most yellow cards in football history and at the club!

Raul Garcia- 185 yellow cards

Raúl García Escudero, born 11 July 1986, is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Athletic Bilbao mainly as an attacking midfielder but also as a central midfielder.

In July 2007, after helping Osasuna to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup with one goal in 12 games, García signed a five-year contract with Atlético Madrid, reuniting with former boss Aguirre upon the €13 million deal.

Garcia is still at Athletic Bilbao and could move up the list of the players with

the most yellow cards in football history

between now and the time he retires.

David Albelda-183 yellow cards

David Albelda Aliqués, born 1 September 1977, is a Spanish retired footballer who played as a defensive midfielder, and was hired as the manager of Atzeneta UE.

He played mainly for local Valencia during his extensive professional career, being team captain for over a decade and appearing in 480 competitive matches.

Born in La Pobla Llarga, Valencian Community, Albelda started his career as a central defender with local UD Alzira and, after having served two separate loans with Villarreal CF, also in the region, returned for good to first professional club Valencia CF in the 1999–2000 season.

He played a major role in a squad that was crowned La Liga champions in 2002 and 2004. At the same time, Albelda booked 183 yellow cards during his career, while 177 of those yellow cards came at Valencia. Albelda is acknowledged to be one of the players with most yellow cards in football history.

Giampiero Pinzi-182 yellow cards

Giampiero Pinzi, born 11 March 1981, is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a midfielder.

With the Under-21 Italian team, Pinzi won the 2004 UEFA European Under-21 Championship and a bronze medal at 2004 Summer Olympics. He made his senior international debut and only cap for Italy in 2005.

After one-year with S.S. Lazio in the Serie A signed with League rival Udinese Calcio. Pinzi just booked 119 yellows and 13 reds while at Udinese. So, he is a

soccer player with most yellow cards of all time

, which is quite impressive.

Emre Belozoglu-181 yellow cards

Emre Belözoğlu, born 7 September 1980, is a Turkish former professional footballer who played as a midfielder. A playmaker, his past clubs include Galatasaray, Inter Milan, Newcastle United, Atlético Madrid, İstanbul Başakşehir and Fenerbahçe.

As a versatile midfielder, Emre is capable of playing in the middle of the pitch as a central midfielder, as an advanced playmaker, or even on the left.

As one of the soccer players with most yellow cards of all time, Belözoğlu is mainly known for his technical ability and tactical sense who has booked 181 yellow cards during his career.

Arturo Vidal-180 yellow cards

Arturo Erasmo Vidal Pardo

, born 22 May 1987, is a Chilean professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Serie A club Inter Milan and the Chile national team.

His displays during his time at Juventus led him to be nicknamed Il Guerriero ("The Warrior"), Rey Arturo ("King Arthur") and La Piranha by the Italian press due to his hard-tackling and aggressive, tenacious style of play.

In Chile, he is also known as Kinnikuman, due to his looking similarity to the anime character in the same anime series.

As another soccer player with most yellow cards of all time, Arturo Vidal has booked 180 yellow cards during his career, most of which were because of his

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controversial tackles like the one on Marco Asensio.

Javier Mascherano-175 yellow cards

Javier Alejandro Mascherano, born 8 June 1984, is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder or centre-back for Argentine Primera División club Estudiantes de La Plata.

In 2007, Liverpool added Mascherano to their UEFA Champions League squad and gave him the number 20 shirt. Eventually, on 20 February 2007, Mascherano's move to Liverpool became official after the Premier League accepted Liverpool's request to register the player at Anfield.

Mascherano had the worst disciplinary record of the 2009–10 Premier League season with seven yellow cards and two red.

Mascherano’s lack of pace earned him plenty of yellow cards during his career.

Alberto Lopo-171 yellow cards

Alberto Lopo García, born 5 May 1980, is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Andorran club Inter Club d'Escaldes as a central defender.

His physical style of play resulted in him being one of the most booked players every season in Spanish football. He spent 16 years of his career – youth years accounted for – at Espanyol, twice winning the Copa del Rey.

Lopo’s dirtiest spell was at Espanyol, where he played 186 times and earned 67 yellow cards and eight red cards.

Stathis Tavlaridis-169 yellow cards

Stathis Tavlaridis, born 25 January 1980, is a Greek retired football defender. Tavlaridis has earned the nickname "Taureau" in France which means "The Bull" due to his aggressive style of play.

Tavlaridis only managed to play twice for the Greek national football team in 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, having fallen out of favor with coach Otto Rehhagel.

Because of his aggressive playing style, he booked 169 yellow cards during his career.

Daniele de Rossi-167 yellow cards

Daniele De Rossi Ufficiale OMRI, born 24 July 1983, is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a defensive midfielder. He is mostly known for his time playing with his hometown club Roma in Serie A. He is also a former Italy national team player.

He began as a footballer in his young age as a striker at Ostia Mare before joining the AS Roma academy in 2000. De Rossi was Italy’s top scorer in the Confederations Cup, with the record of two goals. With 21 goals, he was the highest-scoring midfielder for Italy post.

Have you seen the tattoo on his calf? No wonder he picked up 167 yellow cards.

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De Rossi’s calf of the right leg contains a warning sign inked on it.

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The Italian midfielder is well known for his tough tackling and plays up his own tough approach, and thus this forced him to get a tattoo to immortalize his reputation forever by inking up a triangular “hazard” sign of a tackle being performed.

The tattoo clearly shows the football’s warning to an opponent sign which depicts the opponent’s leg is hacked away.

On 6 January 2020, De Rossi announced his retirement from professional football citing family reasons for his decision.

Rafael Marquez-167 yellow cards

Rafael Márquez Álvarez, born 13 February 1979 is a Mexican former footballer and currently the youth coach (Cadete A) of Spanish Tercera División club Alcalá.

Nicknamed El Káiser, Márquez is regarded as the best defender in Mexico's history and one of the best Mexican players of all time. He played as a central defender, sweeper, or defensive midfielder.

In 2003, Márquez signed for Spanish club

FC Barcelona

. He made his debut in La Liga on 3 September 2003 against Sevilla, the match ending in a 1–1 draw. On 9 November, he scored his first goal for Barcelona in their 2–1 victory over Real Betis.

In his first season with Barcelona, Márquez made 22 league appearances (31 across all competitions) as the team finished second in the league, five points behind Valencia.

Márquez was Guardiola's first-choice at center back along with captain Puyol for the 2008–09 season. On 13 December 2008, Márquez played his 200th match for Barcelona in their 2–0 win against Real Madrid.

Prior to the 2009–10 season, Márquez received an offer from Italian Serie A club Fiorentina. Márquez, however, said he wanted to end his career at Barcelona. Márquez eventually signed a new contract with Barça in November 2009 that would keep him at the club until 2012.

As one of the

footballers with most yellow cards ever, t

he Mexican earned himself 52 yellows during his time at Barcelona. In 2010, it was announced that Márquez had signed with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer on a three-and-a-half-year contract.

Darijo Srna-167 yellow cards

Darijo Srna, born 1 May 1982, is a Croatian former professional footballer and current director football of Ukrainian Premier League club Shakhtar Donetsk. During most of his career he played as a defender.

Srna was born in Metković to Bosniak father Uzeir and Croatian mother Milka. His father, a World War II orphan and a former footballer for FK Sarajevo, supported his fledgling football career despite discrimination during the Yugoslav wars and widespread corruption among football coaches.

While at Shakhtar, Srna frequently bought match tickets for orphans and often financed their travel to the stadium at his own expense. In late 2014, he purchased 20 tonnes of tangerines from farms near Metković and had them donated to over 23,000 primary school children in the Donbass region during the ongoing war there.

However, on the pitch, it was a different story. The retired Croat picked up 128 yellow cards during his long spell at Shakhtar Donestsk to be on the list of the footballers with most yellow cards ever.

Jelle van Damme-166 yellow cards

Jelle François Maria Van Damme, born 10 October 1983, is a Belgian international professional footballer who can play as a central defender, left-back or left sided midfielder.

He previously played for clubs in Belgium, England, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. He also has over 30 caps for the Belgium national football team.

In 2019, he signed a one-year contract with Lokeren. The Belgian was without a club for a while after leaving KSC Lokeren. His record of 12 yellows in 25 games wasn’t enough to convince them of a new contract. He is among the

footballers with the most red cards in soccer history.

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Pepe-165 yellow cards

Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira ComM, born 26 February 1983, known as Pepe, is a Brazilian-Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a center back for Porto and the Portugal national team.

The 37-year-old is back in Portugal following a prolific spell in Spain with Real Madrid.

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He played for Real Madrid between 2007 and 2017.

The Portuguese nutcase-of-a-defender rejoined Porto in January, 2019 transfer window and he made his first appearance for the club since 2007 in the cup, and he certainly left his mark.

He spent 10 trophy-laden season's at Real Madrid, winning the lot. From La Liga titles to Champions League glory an impressive three times.

He was plying his trade at Besiktas but left Turkey in December, 2019. In 2017, Pepe signed with Turkey's Besiktas. Despite having contract with the club until the end of the season, Pepe terminated his contract upon Besiktas' elimination from European competitions.

He signed a two-and-a-half year deal with Porto after arriving on a free transfer. People are amazed to hear that Pepe’s name is on the list of the most yellow cards in football history. He has booked 165 yellow cards so far and is known as one of the footballers with most yellow cards ever!

Other footballers who have the most yellow cards in football history:

Alexandru Gatcan-165 yellow cards

Leonardo Ponzio-164 yellow cards

The above mentioned names are among the footballers with the most red cards in soccer history.

Having discussed enough about the footballers with the most red cards in soccer history, it should be mentioned that it is not easy to play without getting booked in ones’ career but maybe it’s possible not to be among the list of 

the most yellow cards in football history.

However, 5 players made it to the list of players without being booked. One of them stood out among the rest. The fine English and Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Gary Linekar.

 Gary Linekar

With a total 16 years playing career, Gary was able to score 330 goals in 567 matches for club and country, and he was never booked.

Linekar was a nice guy on and off the pitch and we wonder if he ever got annoyed by his opponents.

But it’s a record that’s worth celebrating with a sports that’s filled with anger, rage, and emotions that’s spilled out continually.

It will take a long time before we see another player go 10–20 years without being booked.

Peter Shilton

Shilton never booked a yellow card in his career. However, he was sent off once.

He played 1,005 Football League matches over the course of a 31 year professional career. He’s also England’s record cap holder, with 125 England caps.

He made his professional debut for Leicester City in 1966, aged 17, alongside Gordon Banks only months after England’s World Cup win. 2 years later, Shilton was 1st choice and Banks left for Stoke City.

8 years, 286 League appearances, and 1 goal later, Shilton signed for Stoke City. Replacing Gordon Banks.

3 years and 110 League apps later, Shilton signed for Nottingham Forest.

5 years, 202 League apps, 1 League title, 2 European Cups, and a European Super Cup later, he signed for Southampton.

5 years and 188 League apps later, he signed for Derby County.

5 years and 175 League apps later, Shilton signed for Plymouth Argyle as player-manager.

3 years, 34 League apps, his sole red card, a relegation and a promotion later, Shilton signed for Wimbledon, for whom he played no matches.

After Wimbledon, Shilton made a single appearance for Bolton Wanderers. After that he was at Coventry City and West Ham United, but didn’t play any matches for either.

He finished his professional career in 1997 after 9 appearances for Leyton Orient, aged 47.

In the last few years, into his 70s, he played for Hinckley in non-league.

That gives him 1,130. He also played 244 matches in other competitions, for a grand total of 1,374 professional matches with no yellow cards, and just a single red card.


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source: SportMob