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Footballers Who Were Never Booked During Their Careers

Tue 02 March 2021 | 14:30

That’s an interesting question. Who might be the footballers who were never booked during their careers? You know, it’s big-time hard to play a career of let’s say 20 or more years and you don’t get booked even once, but you know what? There are a handful of footballers who have achieved that.

The number is eight. There are only eight footballers in the history of football who never received either a yellow or a red card during their careers. Let’s call them the most gentleman footballers ever!

In this post, however, we not only introduce the

footballers who were never booked during their careers

but also footballers who have never been shown a red card. And are there any players without a yellow card in football history who were but shown red cards? Very unlikely, but as far as we know, there is one, and we will let you know about him too.

Introducing Two Lists: Footballers Who Were Never Booked During Their Careers and Players Without a Red Card in Football History

As we mentioned above, other than the list of footballers who were never booked during their careers we also introduce the list of players without a red card in football history. Please consider that we have excluded goalkeepers from the list of footballers without a red card in history, because goalkeepers are less engaged in challenges compared to the rest of their teams, so the probability they get a red card from a challenge is far lower, and a goalkeeper without a red card is no amazing news. There are lots of them out there!

Stanley Matthews

The first footballer on our list of footballers who were never booked during their careers, Sir Stanley Matthews is a passed English footballer who never received a yellow or a red card during his 33-year career which lasted from 1932 to 1965, and during this time, he only served three clubs:

Stoke City

for 19 years and in two time periods, once from 1932 to 1947 and another time from 1961 to 1965, Blackpool for 14 years between 1947 and 1961, and finally Toronto City in two loan periods, once in 1961 and another time in 1965.

What is quite notable about Sir Stanley Matthews is the length of his career (33 years) and the fact that he was never booked during such a long career. In fact, if we are to crown a footballer as number one among the footballers who were never booked during their careers, we should do it to Stanley Matthews. Why? So simple; because his career is longer than the other footballers on the list and the probability that one gets a yellow or red card is higher when he has taken part in more games.

Sir Stanley Matthews made a total of 857 appearances during his career 803 of which were at club level and 54 at league level. He actually received not a single yellow or red card in all these 857 appearances. Great! But what was his secret? They say Sir Stanley Matthews was an intelligent player and also a great and quick dribbler which helped him avoid unnecessary challenges. Other than that, he rarely tackled his opponents and took less part in air challenges from which a player is more probable to get cards.

Jimmy Dickinson

Another passed English footballer from old times - actually post World War II - who never received a card either yellow or red during his career, Jimmy Dickinson was also a one-club man. He served only the English club,

Portsmouth

, during his 19-year career which lasted from 1946 to 1965, and during this time he made 828 appearances for them across all competitions.

Dickinson also served the English national team between 1949 and 1956 and during this time he made 48 appearances for them. So, all in all, Dickinson made 876 appearances during his career which is even more than those of Sir Stanley Matthews and in fact more than any other footballers who were never booked during their careers. So if we are to crown a footballer among never-booked ones in terms of the number of appearances made and having not been booked, then Jimmy Dickinson will top the list.

William Ralph Dean

Yet another passed English footballer on the list of

footballers who were never booked during their careers

, William Ralph Dean, known as Dixie Dean, can also be considered as old-time footballers since he actually had retired from professional footballer three years before the World War II started. During his 17-year career, Dixie Dean made a total of 489 appearances and scored 425 goals for the English clubs, Tranmere Rovers, Everton,

Notts County

, and Hurst, and also the Irish club, Sligo Rovers.

Dixie Dean also made 16 appearances and scored 18 goals for the English national team between 1927 and 1932. So, all in all, Dean made a total of 505 appearances - both club and international - during his career in which he was never booked.

And if you have guessed that he was a forward based on the number of goals he scored, we should say you’re right. He was actually a center forward and as you see a prolific goal scorer. You should also consider that avoiding challenges for a forward and especially a prolific goal scorer is a hard job let alone not receiving a single yellow or red card; what actually Dean managed to achieve during his career.

Gary Lineker

Fortunately this footballer on our list of never-booked footballers is still alive! Gary Lineker is a 60-year-old retired English footballer who served top clubs, Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur, and

Everton

, and also Leicester City and the Japanese club, Nagoya Grampus, during his 16-year career which lasted from 1978 to 1994. He actually made 567 club and 80 international appearances during this time which sum up to a total of 647 appearances in general.

And as you know, Lineker was never booked during all his 647 appearances, otherwise he was not on our list of never-booked footballers! Lineker received the FIFA Fair Play award in 1990 for his fine style of play and probably the fact that he had not been booked even once until that time; the fashion in which he continued until the end of his career.

Lineker was not a physical player, instead, he relied more on his intelligence and opportunism. He was also so skilled at deceiving defenders to create spaces for goalscoring chances which actually required no close challenge. Maybe that’s why he also evaded getting booked during his play time despite playing as a forward.

Billy Lidell

The only Scottish and the next passed footballer on the list of footballers who were never booked during their careers, Billy Lidell was also a one-club man during his footballing time. He served only

Liverpool

during his 21-year career which lasted from 1938 to 1961. And during this time he made a total of 534 appearances and scored 228 goals for them across all competitions. He also made 29 appearances for the Scottish national team and scored 8 goals for them.

534 appearances at club and 29 appearances at international level; that actually sum up to 563 overall appearances for Lidell in which he was never booked. Billy Lidell was known for his strong physique and powerful shots during his play time but his good conduct on the pitch never let that strong physique to get in the way of others and get him a yellow or red card. They say Lidell’s good conduct on the pitch had such an influence that Liverpool acquired the nickname “Lidellpool” sometime during the Scottish player’s service to the club.

John Charles

And here comes the only Welsh footballer on the list of

footballers who were never booked during their careers

: John Charles. Passed away in 2004 at the age of 72, John Charles served Italian clubs, AS Roma and

Juventus

, English clubs, Leeds United, Hereford United, and Cardiff City, and one Welsh club, Merthyr Tydfil, during his 25-year career which lasted from 1949 to 1974.

Despite the fact that Charles served the 6 above-mentioned clubs during his career, he’s mostly known as a Leeds player. Why? Because he served the Whites more than any other club during his career; actually for 8 years, and he also made the most number of appearances for them: 297 (at league level). All in all, John Charles made 753 appearances during his career from which 715 were at league and 38 were at international level, and he was never booked in all these appearances.

The interesting fact about John Charles is that during his play time he played in two quite different roles: defender and forward. And you know what that means? Being more active on the pitch and getting more engaged in challenges, however and despite this, Charles managed to stay never-booked and finished among the footballers who were never booked during their careers.

Although the passed Welsh footballer was big in size and had a tall stature, he was nicknamed “The Gentle Giant” for his correct conduct on the pitch; probably what actually had him never be booked during his career.

Tommy Lawton

The last footballer on the list of footballers who were never booked during their careers, Tommy Lawton is a passed English footballer who served seven English clubs, namely Burnley, Everton,

Chelsea

, Notts County, Brentford, Arsenal, and Kettering Town, during his 20-year career which lasted from 1936 to 1956. Lawton made a total of 433 appearances for the above-mentioned clubs during his play time and scored quite a number of goals (260) for them since he was a center forward.

And for the English national team? He actually made 23 appearances and scored 22 goals - almost one goal in every appearance. So, all in all, Lawton made 456 appearances during his career in none of which he was booked. He had a strong physique and was famed for his heading ability. He had strong leg muscles which helped him jump higher than other players and took an active part in aerial challenges, however despite his strength on the pitch and dominance in the air, he was never booked during his career for violent play.

The List of Players Without a Yellow Card in Football History

You might ask when a player is not booked doesn’t that mean he never received a yellow card in his career? The answer is yes and no! If we only consider the players who have never been given a yellow card, then the answer is yes; the players who have never been given a yellow card are the ones who have never been booked, however, if we count in red cards, then the story is a little bit different.

You know why? Because, as you might have guessed, there may be players who have been given a direct red card, but they have never received a yellow card. Of course, this is a very very rare occasion in football history, however, there is one footballer who received a red card but never a yellow card during his career - we’re going to introduce him below. So, the list of footballers who were never booked during their careers overlaps with the list of

players without a yellow card in football history

except for the footballer we are going to introduce below.

Peter Shilton

Among the players who have never been given a yellow card, Peter Shilton is a 71-year-old retired English goalkeeper who received no yellow but a red card during his career. He cannot be among the footballers who were never booked during their careers and also not among the players without a red card in football history. He’s somewhere in between!

A footballer with no yellow card but a single red card that he received in a game against

Hull City

for the foul he committed against the then Hull City midfielder, Graeme Atkinson - Shilton was actually Plymouth Argyle’s goalkeeper at the time.

Shilton actually served 11 English clubs during his career some of which are Leicester City, Southampton, West Ham United, and Stoke City. Shilton’s career actually lasted for 31 years from 1966 to 1997 and during this time he actually made 1390 appearances 1249 of which were at club and 125 at international level. In fact, Shilton holds the record of the most number of appearances ever made in the history of football. If he didn’t just received that red card, he would now be among the never-booked footballers, though he’s still among the

players who have never been given a yellow card

.

The List of Players Without a Red Card in Football History

Well, now we reach the list of footballers without a red card in history; the footballers who were shown yellow but no red cards during their careers.

Philipp Lahm

The only German footballer on the list of footballers without a red card in history, Philipp Lahm was almost a one-club man during his 15-year career which lasted from 2001 to 2017. He served only

Bayern Munich

during this time and if it was not for two seasons between 2003 and 2005 that he served VfB Stuttgart, we could say he was actually a one-club man.

Anyhow, Lahm made a total of 765 appearances during his career 652 of which were at club and 113 were at league level. Although the 37-year-old German midfielder and defender received 60 yellow cards during his club career, he was never sent off with a red card.

Related Article: 

Philipp Lahm Biography

Michel Platini

The legendary French footballer who is also considered as one of the best footballers France has ever produced - or maybe actually the best - is also among the footballers who have never been shown a red card. Platini made a total of 652 appearances during his career both at club and international level - 580 at club and 72 at international level - and he was never shown a red card in any of these appearances.

The winner of three Ballon d'Or trophies in 1983, 1984, and 1985, Michel Platini only received 13 yellow cards during his career. He was also a prolific goalscorer despite being a midfielder. He actually scored 353 goals in all his 652 appearances which translates to a little bit more than 1 goal in every 2 appearances.

Damien Duff

The first Irish footballer on the list of

footballers without a red card in history

, Damien Duff is a 41-year-old retired footballer who made a total of 732 appearances for 6 clubs, mainly English, including Chelsea and

Fulham

and also the Irish national team between 1996 and 2015 without receiving a single red card, though he received 42 yellow cards during his full career.

Damien Duff was an industrious footballer who put all his heart in what he did; no matter where or when. He played as a winger and was known for his technique and tricks in skipping the opposition defenders and creating goal scoring chances for his teammates - or even for himself! It was actually the same qualities that had Chelsea snatch him away in 2003 for a transfer fee of £17 million.

Related Article: 

Facts about Raul Gonzalez

Raul Gonzalez

Also among the footballers who have never been shown a red card during their careers, Raul Gonzalez Blanco, simply known as Raul, is a retried Spanish footballer who played for the La Liga club,

Real Madrid

, for the majority of his career; actually for 16 years between 1994 and 2010 during which he made a total of 741 appearances for them across all competitions.

Raul made a total of 1044 appearances during his career from which 942 were at club and 102 at international level, and as you know, he never received a red card in any of these appearances, though he received 46 yellow ones in them. Like some other never-booked footballers or footballers without a red card, Raul was also an intelligent player who was famed for his elegance and technical abilities rather than physicality.

Aaron Hughes

The second Irish footballer on the list of footballers who have never been shown a red card, Aaron William Hughes, simply known as Aaron Hughes, is a recently retired defender who served eight clubs, mainly English ones like

Aston Villa

and Fulham, during his 22-year career which lasted from 1997 to 2019.

Hughes made a total of 669 appearances at club and 112 appearances at international level during his career which sum up to a grand total of 781 appearances. He received 22 yellow cards in all these appearances but no red card ever. With the 112 appearances that Hughes made for the Irish national team, he’s actually the most capped Irish footballer ever - in fact to this date. And he only received 4 yellow cards in all these appearnces - one yellow card in every 28 appearances.

Ryan Giggs

The only welsh footballer and also the only one-club man on the list of

footballers who have never been shown a red card

, Ryan Giggs served only the top Premier League club,

Manchester United

, during his 24-year career which lasted from 1990 to 2014, and during this time, he made a total of 963 appearances for them. He actually holds the record of most number of appearances for Manchester United in the history of the club.

Ryan Giggs also made 64 appearances for the Welsh national team that with his club appearances (963) makes a grand total of 1027 appearances in none of which he received a red card. Giggs actually received 50 yellow cards during his whole career 48 of which were at club level. Despite the fact that the 47-year-old retired Welsh footballer played almost in any role during his career which means getting engaged in more challenges he was never sent off for violent play or deliberate breaching of the rules.

Related Article: 

Ryan Giggs Biography

Luke Young

Another English footballer on the list of footballers who have never been shown a red card, Luke Young actually played as a defender for whole his 17-year career which lasted from 1997 to 2014 and for five English clubs, namely Tottenham Hotspur,

Charlton Athletic

, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, and Queens Park Rangers - in chronological order.

Young made a total of 442 appearances for the above-mentioned clubs and only 7 appearances for the English national team - all in 2005 - which sums up to a grand total of 449 appearances in none of which he was sent off. However, Young received 66 yellow cards in his senior career 65 of which were at club level.

The following two footballers are still in the business. They have not received a red card yet and they are almost near the end of their careers. We hope they keep this fashion until the end, however if otherwise, we will surely update you with their news.

Karim Benzema

The only French footballer on the list of footballers who have never been shown a red card, Karim Benzema has been serving the top La Liga club, Real Madrid, since 2009. And before that, actually for five years between 2004 and 2009, he served the French club,

Lyon

, and made 148 appearances for them during this time. And for Real Madrid? He has made a total of 541 appearances to this date (March 2021).

Benzema’s senior international career lasted for 8 years between 2007 and 2015 during which the 33-year-old French forward made 81 appearances for his country’s national team. So, all in all, Benzema has made 790 appearances to this date in none of which he’s been sent off, and he has only received 14 yellow cards in all these appearances all at club level.

Related Article: 

Facts about Andres Iniesta

Anders Iniesta

And here comes the second Spanish footballer on the list of footballers who have never been shown a red card: Andres Iniesta, the 36-year-old midfielder who served the La Liga club,

Barcelona

, for the majority of his career; actually for 17 years between 2001 and 0018. Almost at the end of his career, Iniesta is now serving the Japanese club, Vissel Kobe - he’s been actually since 2018.

Iniesta made a total of 674 appearances for Barcelona, and 131 for the Spanish national team. He has also made 74 appearances for Vissel Kobe since 2018 that he’s been serving the Japanese club. So, all in all, Iniesta has made 879 appearances to this date and he has never been sent in any of them. However, he has received 68 yellow card 63 of which have been at club and 5 at international level.

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