In the football world, representing your country is an honour. That too doing it on the international stage like a World Cup or European Championships or the Copa America is a feeling beyond expression. Few players have enjoyed the luxury of playing for their nation for an extended period and enjoyed success. Many players who have enjoyed success at the club level have failed to do so at the international level.
Cristiano Ronaldo has broken another international appearance record by appearing at five European Championship finals. As Ronaldo becomes creates a new record it becomes very relevant to know who are the top 10 international footballers with the highest appearances at major tournaments. Here we included major tournaments like World Cup, Copa America and Confederations Cup, Summer Olympics and many more.
10) GIANLUIGI BUFFON (31)
One of the most decorated goalkeepers of all time Gigi Buffon is on the list deservedly. The Italian has been played at the highest level for a long period of time.
At the 1998 FIFA World Cup @gianluigibuffon was an an un-used sub 🤷♂️
2002 – Played every minute of Italy's tournament ⏱️
2006 – Won the trophy 🏆
2014 – Finished his World Cup career as @azzurri's captain 🤩🇮🇹
— FIFA Museum (@FIFAMuseum) February 25, 2020
He appeared at five world cup finals and won the 2006 edition. Failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup broke his heart as he retired from the national team.
9) LILIAN THURAM(32)
Lilian Thuram was a rock in France’s legendary generation that swept the World and Europe. A classic no-nonsense defender he was a nightmare for forwards.
Thierry Henry and Lilian Thuram with the World Cup trophy, 1998. pic.twitter.com/rgbQrCfmbo
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) June 6, 2020
He had a wholesome career as he retired with 32 caps after the 2008 Euro. His son Marcus Thuram is trying to live up to his father’s legacy.
8) SERGIO RAMOS(32)
Considered as one of the best centre-backs of this generation Sergio Ramos was instrumental for Spain and Real Madrid. Aggression, skill and passion are the three traits that define Ramos perfectly. His trophy cabinet is overflowing with World Cup and European Cups shining gloriously.
Sergio Ramos' major honours:
3 La Liga titles
2 Copa Del Reys
2 Champions Leagues
2 Euro titles
1 World Cup
What a f*cking career. pic.twitter.com/APzCIoK6qm
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) March 30, 2017
Sergio Ramos missed out on this edition of the European Championship as he struggled to recover from an injury. He could’ve easily added a few more appearances to his tally. Knowing his hunger he’d definitely aim for the 2022 World Cup.
7) PHILIPP LAHM (34)
World Class ability, versatility, consistency you name it you have it. Lahm is one of the best players to coach for any manager in the world. Such is his quality on and off the field. He boasts a wonderful record of not sent off even once in his career.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) July 15, 2018
Lahm was a mainstay in the German side for many years. However, his biggest achievement came in the year 2014 as they won the World Cup. It was a memorable finish and allowed him to retire on a high after few years.
6) DEIGO MARADONA (35)
Who could ever forget Diego Maradona and his hand of God? One of the most if not the most controversial goal in footballing history. That goal sent Maradona and his Argentinian side in the quest for a World Cup victory.
🇦🇷 Diego Maradona is the only man to register 5 goals and 5 assists in one #WorldCup. He drew a record 53 fouls and scored ‘The Goal of the Century’ in it. He captained @Argentina to glory. Has any individual ever had a better World Cup? ♾
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) March 20, 2021
Late Maradona was one of the best players of the game. He had the hunger to play every game and participated in the World Cup, Copa America, Summer Olympics and the four nations cup. The fleet-footed forward also has the best trophy collection from all those tournaments.
5) LOTHAR MATTHAUS (36)
One of the finest midfielders of all time Matthaus was a true genius. His power, pace, skill, vision, and passing were matched by none. In the last century, he redefined the role of a box-to-box midfielder. Maradona even named him as his toughest opponent.
Lothar Matthaus lifts the World Cup. pic.twitter.com/M9BI8FvwhH
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) May 23, 2020
Matthaus is a record cap holder for Germany with 150 appearances to his name. He also appeared in a record five world cup finals for the Die Mannschaft and won a World Cup and a Euro with them.
4) PAOLO MALDINI (36)
The best defender of all time? You could say it without a doubt if you watched Maldini play. The Italian was a perfect centre-back and also an elite left-back. He spent all 25 years of his esteemed career at AC Milan.
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) December 8, 2016
For all his success at the club level, he wasn’t able to translate it onto the international stage. His Italian side fell short of glory a few times. Nevertheless, he recorded 36 appearances at major tournaments for the Azzurri.
3) RONALDO NAZARIO (37)
Back to goal, receives the ball, starts accelerating towards the goal and the defenders know there’s no point in defending. O Fenomeno was such a force of nature. His shooting was divine and ended many matches even before they began with his looks and swagger.
On this day in 1998, Brazil beat Morocco 3-0 and the Stade de la Beaujoire was the setting for Ronaldo Nazário's first World Cup goal.pic.twitter.com/59KJXvI6yy
— The Blizzard (@blzzrd) June 16, 2021
The Brazilian forward enjoyed massive success with both club and country. He was the driving force for Brazil as they won a record 4 international trophies between 1994 and 2002. He won the Most Valuable Player award at the 1997 Copa as well. Ronaldo used to score goals for fun game after game and made it into history books.
2) BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER (38)
The midfield motor was a master of all midfield roles. He used to play as a defensive midfielder, an offensive one, a right-back, a box-to-box midfielder, and pretty much everywhere.
🏆 8x Bundesliga
🏆 7x German Cup
🏆 1x Champions League
🏆 1x World Cup
Bastian Schweinsteiger has announced his retirement. pic.twitter.com/LBrRfKEyJH
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 8, 2019
Basti earned 120 caps for Germany with nearly 40 of those coming at the major tournaments. He got crowned in 2014 with the World Cup in a wonderful way.
1) CRISTIANO RONALDO (39)
Another day another record broke. Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to play in five European Championship Finals. He marked that occasion with a scintillating brace. Those goals further broke records as he became the competition’s highest scorer. Can’t catch a break, can we?
Cristiano Ronaldo 🤩
⚽️ All-time EURO top scorer (11 goals)
🇵🇹 All-time top scorer for Portugal (106 goals)
👕 First player to appear at 5 EURO final tournaments
👏 First player to score at 5 consecutive EURO final tournaments #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/rjJ7C5iXo1
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) June 15, 2021
The scary fact that he is still going strong. He is set to add more appearances to his name this time as he looks to defend Portugal’s crown at the Euros. A professional in top shape irrespective of age, he can aim for the 2022 World Cup and glory there would cement his status as the best player the game has ever seen.