Legends of the game such as Paolo Maldini and Cafu have featured in different editions of the tournament
The FIFA World Cup started back in 1930 and is the most-watched sporting event. It is the biggest trophy any player or team can win. Not even the best players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. have won the World Cup. Getting a cap for the national team is a great achievement, but an even greater achievement is playing for your country at the World Cup.
Here are the top 10 players with the most appearances at the FIFA World Cup.
10. Grzegorz Lato (Poland) – 20 appearances
Grzegorz Lato played for the Polish team between 1971-1984. It is during this time that he made 100 appearances, in which he scored 45 goals. The winger was a part of the golden generation of the Polish football team in the 1970s. Lato has represented Poland at many major tournaments.
The Polish team won the gold medal at the summer Olympics in 1972. The peak of his career was at the 1974 World Cup when he was the top scorer at the tournament. Lato is the only Polish player to achieve this feat. The winger was part of the Polish team which finished third at the 1984 World Cup in Spain.
9. Philipp Lahm (Germany) – 20 matches
Lahm is one of the best full-backs of all-time. The German defender succeeded at both the domestic and international levels. He played in a strict methodology of discipline and never received a red card in his career.
Lahm is one of the most legendary German players and one of their best captains as well. He made 113 appearances for Germany and played at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He made 20 appearances at the FIFA World Cup for the German side.
Lahm was the only player to play every minute at the 2010 World Cup. The Bayern Munich legend captained his side at the 2014 World Cup, which saw them beat France and then Brazil 7-1. Germany then won the final against Argentina. Following the 2014 World Cup, Lahm retired from international football.
8. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) – 20 matches
Schweinsteiger, just like Philipp Lahm, is a Bayern Munich and German legend as well. The midfielder is fourth on the list of Germany’s most-capped players of all-time. He earned 124 caps for his nation, scoring 24 goals.
Schweinsteiger also made 20 appearances at the World Cup just like Lahm. He has also played at the three World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014). He was an excellent midfielder and very versatile as well. The German played as a holding, box-to-box midfielder, playmaker and also at times in a deep-lying role. Schweinsteiger’s main contribution was at the 2014 World Cup, where he played a very vital role in the final against Argentina. He successfully defended against Lionel Messi, after which his side won the tournament.
7. Cafu (Brazil) – 20 matches
Cafu is regarded as one of the best right-backs of all-time, alongside Dani Alves and Philipp Lahm. He is quite underrated amongst today’s generation, but the Brazilian has quite a reputation in football circles.
The full-back is Brazil’s most capped player of all-time. He made 142 appearances for the national team and featured at four World Cups. Cafu also made 20 appearances at the World Cup. However, he holds a unique record to his name. The Brazilian is the only player in history to make an appearance in three consecutive World Cup finals. He won the World Cup in 1994 and 2002.
6. Wladyslaw Zmuda (Poland) – 21 matches
Zmuda is a very unknown player amongst today’s football generation. The defender is a Poland legend. But, he certainly deserves more recognition and respect.
The defender has 91 caps for Poland, during which he scored two goals and appeared at four World Cups. He made 21 appearances at the World Cup and is at par and even above many renowned legends. Zmuda is tied in third place with Uwe Seeler and Maradona. The defender was named the Young Player of the Tournament at the 1974 World Cup as well.
5. Diego Maradona (Argentina) – 21 matches
Diego Maradona needs no introduction. The former Argentina player is regarded as one of the best to ever grace the game, alongside Pele, Messi and Ronaldo. Maradona was an excellent playmaker with exemplary skills and vision. He made 91 appearances for Argentina, scoring 34 goals. He also has 21 appearances at the FIFA World Cup.
The Argentinian also featured at four World Cups as well. He shone at the 1986 World Cup, where Argentina beat West Germany in the final. However, Maradona established two historic moments at the 1984 World Cup and both were against England. Diego scored two goals against the Three Lions to seal the victory. The first goal, more often remembered as the “Hand of God,” was a handling foul that was not given by the referee. The second goal was iconic because Maradona went solo, dribbling past five England players and scored.
4. Uwe Seeler (Germany) – 21 matches
The Germans have commendable records in both domestic and international football. Uwe Seeler is one such example, he was a very prolific striker. The attacker made 72 appearances for the German side, scoring 43 goals. He also appeared at four World Cups (1958,1962,1966 and 1970). Seeler has 21 appearances as well. However, he did not win even one out of the four World Cups he featured at.
Despite, this Seeler holds many records to his name. He was the first person ever to make 20 appearances at the World Cup. First player ever to score in four World Cups and the first to score two goals each in four World Cups. The German legend altogether scored nine goals across four World Cups.
3. Paolo Maldini (Italy) – 23 matches
Maldini is regarded as one of the best defenders of all-time. His father, Cesare Maldini was a professional football player as well. Cesare called up Paolo to the U-21 Italy team. The AC Milan legend made his senior debut at the age of 19.
Altogether, he racked up 126 caps over the 16 years he played for Italy. He made 23 appearances for his country at the World Cup. Maldini holds the record for most minutes played at a World Cup (2216 minutes). Maldini made an instant impact at his first World Cup in 1990, playing all seven matches. He was at the heart of the defence which kept a clean-sheet in five consecutive matches.
2. Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 24 matches
Klose is the all-time leading goalscorer for Germany. He is one of few players to have won the bronze, silver and gold medals at the World Cup. Klose made 137 appearances for Germany and is well-known for having been a prolific striker.
The attacker made an instant impact on his debut at the 2002 World Cup as he scored five goals. He then repeated this feat at the 2006 edition, winning the Golden Boot. The German striker then scored four goals at the 2010 tournament and twice at his last World Cup in 2014. Overall, he garnered 24 appearances at the World Cup. His tally of 16 goals places him above Ronaldo Nazario. He retired from the German side shortly after the astonishing triumph at the 2014 World Cup.
1. Lothar Matthaus (Germany) – 25 matches
Unsurprisingly, a German tops the list, which is a testament to how good they have been over the years. Matthaus is perhaps one of the greatest German players of all-time. The versatile midfielder could play as an attacking or defensive player as well. He featured as the main box-to-box midfielder because of his stamina, passing, and technical abilities. Matthaus racked up 150 caps for Germany and 25 appearances at the World Cup as well.
The German midfielder appeared in five different World Cup editions. He captained his side to victory in 1990 and also won the Ballon d’Or in the same year. He is only the second player to appear at five World Cups, alongside Antonio Carbajal.