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The Most Capped French Footballers Ever

Sun 06 March 2022 | 17:30

France is just among those strong European nations in football with two World Cup wins in their history. They have also taken part in 15 World Cups to this date. In this post, we are to see which French footballers have made the most number of international appearances.

We have France football player legends like Zinedine Zidane on the list plus that almost all players on the list are among French best football players ever, however,

France best player of all time

, Michel Platini, as some believe, is not among the first ten most capped French footballers ever because he actually made 72 international appearances during his career which puts him on the 26th place on the list of most capped French footballers ever.

Of course, there is controversy over who France best player of all time is as some believe it is Zinedine Zidane and not Michel Platini, though both footballers are surely among France football player legends. Anyway, as we mentioned above, in this post, we are to see who the most capped French players are.

A List of the Most Capped French Footballers Ever

Here comes a list of the most capped French players ever with the retired French defender, Lilian Thuram, topping the list, but let’s see which other footballers populate the list.

Lilian Thuram (142 Caps)

Number one on the list of

most capped French footballers ever

, Lilian Thuram is a 50-year-old retired French defender who served the French national team sometime between 1994 and 2008 making 142 appearances for them in the process which actually has made him the most capped French player ever, of course, to this date. We say to this date because the next player on the list is still active and is only 6 caps behind Thuram which means there is a probability he overtakes the French retired defender.

Thuram actually took part in three editions of FIFA World Cup, namely the 1998, 2002, and 2006 editions, and four editions of UEFA Euro, namely the 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 editions, with the

French national team

winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with them. Thuram was actually part of the France golden generation alongside the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Claude Makelele whose partnership with Bixente Lizarazu, Laurent Blanc and Marcel Desailly in the France defense line in 1998 FIFA World Cup created a brick-wall defense that only conceded two goals in seven matches.

Despite taking part in several editions of World Cup and UEFA Euro, half of Thuram’s appearances (71) were made in international friendlies. The rest of his international appearances actually took place in Euro qualifying rounds (31), Euro finals (16), World Cup qualifying rounds (4), World Cup finals (16), and Confederations Cup (4). He also managed to score two goals and provide nine assists in all these appearances, and received eight yellow cards - one yellow card in almost every 18 matches averagely - but no red cards in his international appearances.

Hugo Lloris (136 Caps)

The only goalkeeper among the first ten most capped French players,

Hugo Lloris

is the current 35-year-old goalkeeper of Tottenham Hotspur who’s been serving the club since 2012 making the most number of his career appearances (323) for a single club for them. Lloris has made a total of 136 appearances for the French national team to this date, and if he’s called up to the team for 2022 FIFA World Cup as the first-team goalkeeper, there is a high probability that he breaks the caps record of Lilian Thuram replacing him on the list as actually the most capped French footballer ever - of course, that also depends how far France can advance in 2022 World Cup.

Although Lloris is not the most capped French footballer, he’s, indeed, the most capped French goalkeeper of all time and by far with that number of international appearances (136). He actually became that in 2017 when he made his 88th international appearance in a friendly match against Paraguay that ended in France’s 5-0 win - consider that before that happened, the top French goalkeeper, Fabian Barthez, held the title with 87 international appearances. Anyhow, as we mentioned above, Lloris is also near becoming the most capped French footballer ever with only 7 appearances short of actually becoming it. We shall wait and see how many appearances he will make if he’s chosen as France’s first-team goalkeeper.

Lloris has been serving the French national team since 2008 and, as we mentioned above, has made a total of 136 international appearances up until now. From among all these 136 appearances, 48 (35%) have taken place in international friendlies, 33 (24%) in World Cup qualification rounds, 16 (11%) in Euro qualifying rounds, 14 (10%) in World Cup finals, 15 (11%) in Euro finals, and 10 (7%) in UEFA Nations League. He has conceded 109 goals in all his 136 appearances - 0.8 goal in every appearance or 4 goals in every 5 appearances averagely - and collected 62 clean sheets - almost one clean sheet in every two appearances. He has also received three yellow cards and one red card in all his international appearances. Lloris has taken part in three editions of FIFA World Cup, namely the 2010, 2014, and 2018 editions, with the French national team, up to this date, winning the 2018 edition with them and in three editions of UEFA Euro as well, actually the 2012, 2016, and 2020 editions, captaining his team in all these editions and finishing as runner-up with them in the 2016 edition.

Thierry Henry (123 Caps)

Some believe Thierry Henry should be among

France football player legends

, but even if he shouldn’t, the fact that he’s France top scorer of all time with 51 international goals stands. As you see, he scored these 51 goals in 123 appearances which means he scored around two goals in every five of his international appearances. We’d better remember him for the goals he scored and not the number of international appearances he made, though he still stands as the third most capped French footballer of all time. If you ask us, all this means he was quite an active player both for the club and country - this you could also infer from the 226 goals he scored in his 370 appearances for Arsenal which makes up to three goals in every five appearances averagely.

Henry

actually served the French national team sometime between 1997 and 2010 taking part in four editions of FIFA World Cup, namely the 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010 editions, with them winning the 1998 edition and finishing as runner-up in the 2006 edition after France lost 6-4 to Italy on penalty shootouts, and in three editions of UEFA Euro, namely the 2000, 2004, and 2008 editions, winning the 2000 edition with his country’s national team after they beat Italy 2-1 in the final and in extra time. During his international career, Henry also provided 30 assists, and received seven yellow cards and one red card. Almost half of Henry’s international appearances took place in friendlies which actually counts for 57 (46%) of them. The rest of his international appearances actually took place in World Cup qualification rounds (17 or 13%), World Cup finals (17 or 13%), Euro qualification rounds (16 or 13%), Euro finals (11 or 8%), and Confederations Cup (5 or 4%).

Marcel Desailly (116 Caps)

Another defender on the list of most capped French footballers ever, Marcel Desailly is a 53-year-old retired French footballer with Ghanaian origin who served the top European clubs, AC Milan and Chelsea, for a major part of his career. He also served the French national team sometime between 1993 and 2004 during which he made 116 appearances for them becoming the fourth most capped French player of all time. He’s actually considered as one of the best center backs and defensive midfielders ever produced in the world of football who also was named on the FIFA 100 list by the Brazilian legend, Pele, alongside his fellowmen, Lilian Thuram, Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, and a few other French footballers, as one of the greatest living footballers.

Desailly actually took part in two editions of FIFA World Cup, namely the 1998 and 2002 editions, winning the former and captaining the French national team in the latter, and in three editions of UEFA Euro, namely the 1996, 2000, and 2004 editions, winning the 2000 edition with the same national team. From among all the 116 international appearances Desailly made 60 (51%) took place in friendlies, 22 (19%) in Euro qualifying rounds, 12 (10%) in Euro finals, 4 (3%) in World Cup qualifying rounds, 10 (8%) in World Cup finals, and 8 (6%) in Confederations Cup. He also scored 3 goals, provided 2 assists, received 8 yellow cards, and one second yellow card leading to a red card in all his international appearances.

Olivier Giroud (110 Caps)

Before anything else, we should say this footballer is still active and considering that he’s behind the previous position to him on the list only by 6 caps, there is a probability that he will overtake and promote himself by one position on the list becoming actually the fourth most capped French footballer of all time, however, you should also consider that he’s 35 years old and almost at the end of his career and that he’s not called up to the French national team for the upcoming World Cup (2022), as far as we know, so that decreases the possibility of him overtaking unless he increase his international appearances through friendlies. We should wait and see.

Olivier Giroud

is actually the second footballer on the list of most capped French footballers ever with the most number of goals scored during his international career. He has scored a total of 46 goals in all his 110 international appearances which gets him a goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.4 meaning that he has scored two goals in every five of his international appearances averagely. If he just makes it to score six more international goals, he will even replace Henry and become France top scorer of all time, but as we mentioned above, it depends on how many international appearances he’s going to make and, in this case, how many international goals he’s going to score for the remainder of his career.

Well, let’s see where and when Giroud’s international appearances have taken place. Giroud has taken part in 2014 and 2018 World Cup editions and 2012, 2016 and 2020 editions of UEFA Euro with the French national team winning the 2018 World Cup and finishing as runner-up in 2016 Euro with them. And here is Giroud’s stats considering his international appearances and goals: Friendlies, 26 goals in 48 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 6 goals in 19 appearances, World Cup finals, 1 goal in 12 appearances, Euro qualification rounds, 6 goals in 10 appearances, Euro finals, 3 goals in 11 appearances, and UEFA Nations League, 4 goals in 10 appearances. He has also made 13 assists and received 7 yellow cards but no red card during all his international appearances.

Zinedine Zidane (108 Caps)

Undoubtedly one of the

French best football players

ever, Zinedine Zidane is also believed to be France best player of all time, too, by some, although many believe it’s Michel Platini who deserves the title, however, there is no doubt that a nation produces such great players as Zidande and Platini not so often. Well, Zidane is actually the first midfielder on the list of most capped French players, or better said, the most capped French midfielder ever with the 108 international appearances he made during his career. He’s also the only winner of the Ballon d'Or trophy on the list - at least among the first ten footballers on the list. The nearest to him concerning this is Thierry Henry who finished as runner-up and on the third place in the 2003 and 2006 editions of Ballon d’Or, respectively.

Zidane is often known as a Real Madrid player. He also managed the top La Liga team for sometime after his career as a player. During his service to the French national team which actually lasted from 1994 to 2006, Zidane made a total of 108 appearances and scored 31 goals which is not a bad goalscoring record for a midfielder. He actually took part in three editions of UEFA Euro, namely the 1996, 2000, and 2004 editions, and three editions of FIFA World Cup, namely the 1998, 2002, and 2006 editions, with the French national team winning Euro 2000 and 1998 FIFA World Cup with them and captaining the team in 2006 FIFA World Cup.

It might be interesting for you here to know that

Zinedine Zidane

alongside the Cameroonian footballer, Rigobert Song, are the only footballers in the history of World Cup to have been sent off in two different editions of the competition. For Zinedine Zidane, it was in 1998 and 2006 World Cups, in the latter, as you know, he was sent off for his headbutt against the Italian defender, Marco Materazzi, in the 110th minutes of the game.

And here comes Zidane’s international stats concerning his appearances and goals: Friendlies, 14 goals in 59 appearances, Euro qualifying rounds, 6 goals in 19 appearances, Euro finals, 5 goals in 14 appearances, World Cup qualifying rounds, 1 goal in 4 appearances, and World Cup finals, 5 goals in 12 appearances. He also provided 30 assists, received 12 yellow cards - more than any other footballer already mentioned on the list - and 2 red cards, as you know, in all his international appearances.

Patrick Vieira (107 Caps)

Another top midfielder on the list of most capped French footballers ever, Patrick Vieira is a 45-year-old retired French footballer with Senegalese origin who served the Premier League club,

Arsenal

, more than any other club during his career and is often known as an Arsenal player. He also served the French national team sometime between 1997 and 2009 during which he made a total of 107 appearances and scored 7 goals for them. Vieira was actually part of the French national team who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000; he took part in these two editions of the above-mentioned competitions plus Euro 2004 and 2008 and 2002 and 2006 World Cups with only finishing as runner-up in 2006 World Cup besides his achievements mentioned above.

As you see, Vieira is only one cap behind Zinedine Zidane and if he just hadn’t suffered a thigh injury prior to Euro 2008 and could play in the competition, he would have increased his international appearances for sure and would now be in front of Zidane on the list of

most capped French players

ever. As mentioned earlier, Vieira made a total of 107 international appearances during his career from which 54 (50%) took place in friendlies, 18 (17%) in Euro qualifying rounds, 9 (8%) in Euro finals, 9 (8%) in World Cup qualification rounds, 12 (11%) in World Cup finals, and 5 (4%) in Confederations Cup. He also scored 6 goals, provided 12 assists, received 13 yellow cards - more than Zinedine Zidane and at least the first ten players on the list - and one second yellow card leading to a red card during his international career.

Didier Deschamps (103 Caps)

Yet another midfielder on the list of

most capped French footballers ever

, Didier Deschamps is a 53-year-old retired French footballer who played for the top European clubs, Juventus and Chelsea, sometime during his career. He also served the French national team for 11 years between 1989 and 2000 making 103 appearances and scoring 4 goals for them in the process. As you might have guessed, he was part of the French national team who won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, and not only this he also captained the team in 1998 World Cup and  in two Euro 2000 matches. He actually took part in Euro 1992, 1996, and 2000 and only 1998 FIFA World Cup with the same achievements mentioned above. You might ask why he wasn’t present in earlier editions of World Cup than its 1998 edition, and the answer is because the French national team could not shamefully qualify for the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. 

From among all the 103 international appearances Deschamps made 47 (45%) took place in friendlies, 23 (22%) in Euro qualifying rounds, 14 (13%) in World Cup qualification rounds, 13 (12%) in Euro finals, and 6 (5%) in World Cup finals. He also scored 4 goals, provided 13 assists, and received 10 yellow cards but no red card during his international career. What makes Deschamps quite special on the list is that he has actually won two FIFA World Cups with the French national team; one as a player in 1998 and another as a manager in 2018. He’s actually been managing his country’s national team since 2012 and probably continues to do so into 2022 World Cup. He’s the only one on the list who has managed the French national team for around ten years and has won a World Cup trophy with them.

Antoine Griezmann (102 Caps)

Another active footballer on the list of

most capped French footballers ever

, Antoine Griezmann is a 30-year-old French forward who’s been serving the French national team since 2014. The difference between Griezmann’s caps and the fifth position’s caps on the list occupied by Olivier Giroud is only 8 and this difference is even lower, as expected, for the next positions on the list and down to only one cap with the previous position to that of

Griezmann

. The French forward is only 30 years old which means he will be active for at least another five years plus that he’s included in France’s first-team for 2022 World Cup, and all that means he will surely increase his international appearances and promote his position on the list which we will surely update you with.

But for now, the number of Griezmann’s international appearances is 102 which puts him on the 9th position on the list of most capped French players. Concerning the number of international goals Griezmann has scored to this date, he’s actually the third on the list with 42 goals which means he has scored 0.4 goal in every international appearance or two goals in every five averagely. As mentioned above, the 30-year-old French forward has been serving his country’s national team since 2014 having taken part in two editions of World Cup, namely the 2014 and 2018 editions, with the French national team, winning the latter edition, and in two editions of UEFA Euro, namely the 2016 and 2020 editions, finishing as runner-up in the former edition.

Here are Griezmann’s international stats concerning the number of appearances he has made and the number of goals he has scored: Friendlies, 14 goals in 39 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 10 goals in 18 appearances, World Cup finals, 4 goals in 12 appearances, Euro qualification rounds, 3 goals in 10 appearances, Euro finals, 7 goals in 11 appearances, and Euro Nations League, 4 goals in 12 appearances. He has also provided 29 assists and received 6 yellow cards in all his international appearances.

Laurent Blanc (97 Caps)

Played as a center back and for some top European clubs like Manchester United, Inter Milan and Barcelona during his career, Laurent Blanc is a 56-year-old retired French footballer who served the French national team sometime between 1989 and 2000. He scored 16 goals in all his 97 international appearances which is quite good for a defender and actually makes him the top scoring French defender of all time. Just consider that the nearest scoring defenders to him on the list are William Gallas and

Raphael Varane

both with five goals. As you see, other French defenders have not even scored more than 5 international goals to this date. Of course, Raphael Varane is still active and could increase his international goals, but if he can break the record of Laurent Blanc, we should wait and see.

Anyway, as mentioned above, Laurent Blanc served the French national team for 11 years between 1989 and 2000 and during this time made a total of 97 appearances for them. From among all these 97 appearances, 45 took place in friendlies, 22 in Euro qualifying rounds, 13 in Euro finals, 12 in World Cup qualifying rounds, and 5 in World Cup finals. He also provided 7 assists and received 5 yellow cards and one red card in all his international appearances with his red card actually being received in a game against Croatia in 1998 World Cup semi-finals which ended in France’s 2-1 win. Blanc actually won the same World Cup (1998) and Euro 2000 with the French national team, and is the only footballer on the list besides Zinedine Zidane who managed his country’s national team after his retirement as a player - between 2010 and 2012 - but unlike Zidane, he never won a trophy with them.

Bixente Lizarazu (97 Caps)

Concerning the number of international appearances, Bixente Lizarazu and Laurent Blanc are the same - both have 97 caps to their names - sharing the 10th position on the list, however, Lizarazu scored only two goals during his international career which is not a flaw in his game regarding his position as a defender - you know, Blanc was just exceptional. Anyway, Lizarazu, who is 52 years old by now, served the French national team sometime between 1992 and 2004 taking part in three editions of Euro, namely the 1996, 2000, and 2004 editions, with them winning the 2000 edition and finishing as runner-up in 1996 edition, and in two editions of World Cup, namely the 1998 and 2000 editions, winning the former one.

From among all the 97 international appearances Lizarazu made, 45 took place in friendlies, 18 in Euro qualifying rounds, 12 in Euro finals, 6 in World cup qualification rounds, 9 in World Cup finals, and 7 in Confederations Cup. He also provided 8 assists and received 10 yellow cards during his international career. It might be interesting for you to know that the two international goals Lizarazu scored during his career were actually scored in a Euro 1996 qualifying round match against Israel which ended in France’s 2-0 victory and in a 1998 World Cup match against Saudi Arabia which ended in the European side’s 4-0 victory.

The Rest of the List of Most Capped French Footballers Ever

Well, of course, the list of French most capped players ever is not limited to the footballers already mentioned in this post. Here are a few other French players with most international appearances.

  • Karim Benzema, Appearances: 94, Status: Playing, Pos: Forward, Intl Career: 2007 to now

  • Sylvain Wiltord, Appearances: 92, Stauts: Retired, Pos: Forward, Intl Career: 1999 to 2006

  • Paul Pogba, Appearances: 89, Status: Playing, Pos: Midfielder, Intl Career: 2013 to now

  • Fabien Barthez, Appearances: 87, Status: Retired, Pos: Goalkeeper, Intl Career: 1994 to 2006

  • Blaise Matuidi, Appearances: 84, Status: Retired, Pos: Midfielder, Intl Career: 2010 to 2019

  • William Gallas, Appearances: 84, Status: Retired, Pos: Defender, Intl Career: 2002 to 2010

  • Raphael Varane, Appearances: 83, Status: Playing, Pos: Defender, Intl Career: 2013 to now

  • Youri Djorkaeff, Appearances: 82, Status: Retired, Pos: Forward, Intl Career: 1993 to 2002

  • Manuel Amoros, Appearances: 81, Status: Retired, Pos: Defender, Intl Career: 1982 to 1992

  • Franck Ribery, Appearances: 81, Status: Retired, Pos: Midfielder, Intl Career: 2006 to 2014

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source: SportMob

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