These footballers have been the most-seen names on the team sheets in the last decade.

Only those players who remain congruent throughout their football careers and achieve honours in their lives thrive. It’s impossible to be regular in sports as you get older and your performance suffers, or long-term or career-ending injuries put a stop to your playing career.

However, numerous players have shown continuity and lasted at the top level, appearing in over 1000 games in Europe. Only a few players have appeared in over 1000 games in Europe, and we can mention a handful in this article as we look at active players with the most appearances.

10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 726

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, although 41 years old, is still a significant player of its. He made his debut in 1999 and his rapid ascent to proficiency opened his route to many important clubs. Ibrahimovic played for 11 clubs in his career, winning 34 championships and scoring 570 goals. However, his game timing has been disrupted by numerous injuries, but the 41-year-old is still a crucial player for AC Milan.

He is one of 11 players in Sweden’s history to have made over 100 games for the national team, and he is the country’s all-time leading goalscorer with 62 goals.

9. Thiago Silva – 786

Thiago Silva’s career has progressed from midfielder to one of the most dependable centre-backs. He commenced his football career in 2002 and changed clubs several times until joining a big European club, AC Milan, in 2009. When he joined PSG, he became the most expensive defender of all time, was the longest-serving captain at PSG and ranks ninth all-time in appearances. Silva presently plays for Chelsea and has made 650 club games across all competitions, as well as 110 national team appearances.

8. Robert Lewandowski – 844

Lewandowski’s meteoric climb to become a prolific striker has been incredible, and his achievements have seen him join numerous large clubs. After assisting Lech Pozna in winning the league title, German giants Borussia Dortmund signed the Polish striker, who blossomed into Europe’s top striker. Since then, Lewandowski has made over 686 club appearances and presently plays for Barcelona.

Although his national team career has not been glamorous, he is the top-scorer with 77 goals in 130 caps and ranks third in men’s top-scorer for the national team.

7. James Milner – 871

James Milner tops the list of the English active players with the most appearances. Milner’s skill was recognized during his youth owing to his athleticism. He made his first-team debut at the age of 16 and has subsequently played for Manchester City, Newcastle United, and Aston Villa. He later joined Liverpool and became captain, guiding them to their first Champions League title since 2005.

Despite his age, he has remained consistent and is still Liverpool’s most imperative player. He only played 61 matches for his country and appeared in two World Cups.

6. Luiz Suarez – 908

Winning two golden boots in an era dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo signifies a great deal about him. Suarez’s statistics have been overshadowed by Ronaldo and Messi, but he is one of the best strikers in the game. Suarez was a prolific goal-scorer for every team he played for, from Nacional to Liverpool and ultimately Barcelona. Although Suarez is now clubless after guiding his hometown club to a league title, he is Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer with 137 appearances.

5. Dani Alves – 938  

Dani Alves holds the record for the most titles won in his career. The right-breakthrough back’s came at Sevilla before moving on to Barcelona, where he became a household name with many notable players. The 39-year-old then moved on to PSG, Juventus Sao Paulo, and a brief comeback to Barcelona, making a total of 801 club appearances. He now plays for the Mexican club UNAM and was named to the 2022 FIFA World Cup squad. He made his debut for Brazil in 2006, appearing in 125 matches and guiding them to the 2019 Copa America.

4. Sergio Ramos – 947

Sergio Ramos, a decorated defender known for his aggressive approach, gave us many memorable memories during his career. His progression from Sevilla to Real Madrid solidified his position as one of the greatest centre-backs of all time. Ramos played with Real Madrid for 16 seasons before joining PSG. In total, he has made 773 club appearances and is one of La Liga’s best goal-scorers as a defender. Ramos won two European Championships and one World Cup for Spain, representing them 180 times, the most of any Spanish player.

3. Lionel Messi – 1000

The latest entrant to the 1000s club – Argentina and Barcelona legend is one of the only three active players with the most appearances to have more than 1000 appearances. Lionel Messi reached the 1000th appearance milestone in a 2022 FIFA World Cup match against Australia. He is one of only a few players who have made over 1000 outings for clubs and the national team. It all started with Barcelona, where he etched his legacy and holds the record for the most appearances and goals for the Spanish club. The 35-year-old is now a PSG player.

For the national team, he holds the record for most matches played (164), and goals scored (94), and is Argentina’s second-leading scorer in the FIFA World Cup.

2. Gianluigi Buffon – 1,135

Many may have forgotten Buffon, but he is still an active player in Europe, presently playing for his childhood club Parma, where he began his career as one of the best goalkeepers of this generation. His turning point came at Juventus, where he spent his whole career before joining PSG. His goalkeeping ingenuity earned him numerous individual awards, and his steadiness helped him beat Paolo Maldini’s Serie A record of 647 appearances.

He is the most capped player in national team history, as well as the most capped player as captain, with 176 appearances and a World Cup to his name.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 1147

Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list of active players with the most appearances. No player can rival Ronaldo’s alignment; at 37, he is still one of Europe’s top players, delivering in every game. Ronaldo moved through the ranks of Sporting Lisbon and Real Madrid swiftly. He made his United debut when he was 18 years old, and the rest is history. He appeared 342 times for Manchester United and 438 times for Real Madrid, winning every club title imaginable with both clubs.

Ronaldo has 194 appearances for Portugal and is the all-time leading scorer in men’s football. His longevity is unrivalled, and he is the active player with the most appearances in international football history.

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