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Football at the Olympics

Top seven men’s footballers with the most appearances at the Olympics

Published at :July 24, 2021 at 12:28 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : Economic Times/SeekPNG/ClipArt)

Rohan Agarwal

Four out of these players plied their trade for the Hungarian National Team.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics began on the 23rd of July and the best athletes in the world are getting ready to face each other. Football is one of the first events to kickoff at the competition. The ultimate sporting spectacle offers a lot of excitement in both the men’s and women’s categories.

Over the years, the women’s game has proven to be fairly more competitive than the men. There are no age restrictions for the women’s teams. However, the men’s event only allows three players above the age of 23 to be a part of the national team. Moreover, the women’s tournament was first introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games and still, it is the female stars who lead the appearance charts.

The Olympics often interfere with the clubs’ pre-season or the holiday break that the players receive after a tiring season. Clubs are often reluctant to send their stars to the competition. This year, players like Eduardo Camavinga, Malang Sarr, William Saliba and many others pulled out of the competition to comply with their clubs’ desire. This plays a major role in why we do not see many big names feature at the event. However, the Olympics serves as a haven for young talents, as they look to impress and potentially find interested clubs.

Despite all this, we have seen players like Neymar yearn for a gold medal at the Olympics. This shows the importance of the competition. Hungary and Great Britain are joint-highest for the most gold medals in this event. However, neither of those nations have brought their national teams to the tournament. Hungary, infact, boast a lot of players at the top of the appearance and goals scored charts.

Khel Now takes a look at the seven male footballers who have made the most appearances at the Olympics.

7. Marcelo - 12

Marcelo has two Olympic medals (Courtesy: ESPN)

The Brazilian left-back has two Olympic medals to go with his twelve appearances. Marcelo featured at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, winning the bronze and silver medal respectively.

In 2008, Marcelo’s Brazil kept five clean-sheets in six games and the defender got a goal to his name as well. In 2012, they scored 16 goals in six games, but disappointingly lost to Mexico in the final. Nonetheless, Marcelo has added two valuable medals to his vast collection.

6. Neymar - 12

One of the best footballers in the world at the moment, Neymar also has two Olympic medals to his name. After losing to Mexico in the 2012 final in London, Neymar won the Olympic gold on home soil four years later.

Neymar scored four goals in the 2016 edition. The entire team scored 12 and conceded just one, as they went on to win the gold medal. Neymar’s emotions after winning the medal were as pure as it gets.

5. Javier Mascherano - 12

Mascherano has two Olympic Gold medals (Courtesy: Sports Mole)

One of the best Argentine defenders of all-time, Javier Mascherano has an extraordinary record at the Olympics. He participated at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and won a gold medal on both occasions. In the process, he became the first male footballer to achieve the feat since Hungarian defender Dezso Novak. He and Neymar jointly hold the fifth place in the list of footballers with most appearances at the Olympics.

In 2004, Argentina cruised through the Olympics. They scored 17 goals and conceded none. In 2008 as well, Argentina were dominant as they kept four clean-sheets in six games. Mascherano’s team defeated Marcelo’s Brazil in the semi-final.

4. Miklos Pancsics – 13

Hungary were a dominant force at the Olympics from 1952 to 1972. In six editions of the competition they won five medals, three of which were gold. He is among the four Hungarian footballers in the list of most appearances at the Olympics.

Pancsics was a defender for the Hungarian team. He participated at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, where he won the gold and silver respectively. Pancsics made 13 appearances at the Summer Games and 37 for Hungary overall.

3. Lazos Szucs – 13

Szucs was a part of that Hungarian side and played as a left winger. He also has a gold and silver medal in his 13 appearances across the 1968 and 1972 Summer Games. Szucs scored four goals in 1968, but none in 1972. He also played for Hungary at the 1972 Euros, where they finished fourth. He is the second of the four Hungarian footballers in the list of most appearances at the Olympics.

Szucs was also named the Hungarian Player of the Year in 1968 and 1971.

2. Deszo Novak - 13

Novak was part of a slightly earlier generation of the Hungarian flock. He played at three Olympic Games from 1960 to 1968. In three editions, he won one bronze and two gold medals. He was a leader for the Hungarian team and was an integral presence at the back.

Later, he also served as a coach for several clubs. Ferencvaros was once such club that he played for and managed on three different occasions.

1. Antal Dunai - 13

Just like the number of his appearances, Antal Dunai has 13 goals to his name as well. Dunai is the joint-top goalscorer in the history of the competition. He played in just the 1968 and 1972 Summer Games and scored six and seven goals respectively.

Dunai, 78, is also the only player who is still alive amongst the Hungarian quartet.

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