Ranking The Top 7 Footballers With The Most Red Cards in History

Ranking The Top 7 Footballers With The Most Red Cards in History

Isaac Darko
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
  • Footballers get punished with yellow cards or red cards when they commit mistakes on the pitch
  • Some of these players have gained worldwide attention for obtaining plenty of red cards in the careers
  • Sports Brief looks at a list of stars with the most red cards in football history

Have you ever considered which players hold the record for the highest number of red cards in the history of the game?

Tough players throughout the years have made a lasting impact with their aggressive tackles and unsportsmanlike behaviour, often leaving their opponents in distress on the field.

In football, "red cards" represent one of the most significant disciplinary actions taken by officials, whether it's the centre referee or an assistant, in response to a player's misconduct.

Top 7 players with the most red cards
Here is a list of stars with the most red cards in football history. Photos by Fran Santiago/Alex Livesey/Alessandro Sabattini
Source: Getty Images

Although red cards are commonly issued for violent conduct, abusive language, and serious tackles towards officials or opponents, it's essential to recognize that 'yellow and red cards' were initially introduced in 1970.

While players with impressive goal tallies, assists, and clean sheets are celebrated as heroes in the game, those lacking discipline or being sent off from the pitch are often labelled as villains.

In this context, Sports Brief explores the profiles of seven players with the highest number of red cards.

Gerardo Bedoya – (46 Red Cards)

With a staggering 46 red cards to his name, Bedoya's on-field discipline, or lack thereof, is prominently displayed. While the Colombian may not be renowned for finesse, he undoubtedly earned a reputation as one of soccer's tough men, leaving a lasting impact with his robust tackles.

During his active playing career, Bedoya represented Racing Club and Boca Juniors in the Argentine SuperLiga, where he gained notoriety for clashing with referees. Even in his coaching role post-retirement, Bedoya's ill-tempered nature persisted, as evidenced by his 21st-minute sending-off during his coaching debut in 2016.

Sergio Ramos – (29 Red Cards)

The second player who is still active on our list is no other than former Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos, who has been sent off the most number of times in the last decades.

He received his first career send-off in La Liga on September 18 2005, per ESPN, and has received some of his famous red cards in El Clasico.

Throughout his tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ramos accumulated a total of 26 red cards, with 21 in La Liga, four in the Champions League, and one in Copa del Rey. Despite being the most booked Spanish player in the 21st century, Ramos intriguingly managed to avoid receiving a red card while representing the national team.

On Sunday, November 26, 2023, Ramos received his first red card of the 2023/24 season.

Cyril Rool – (27 Red Cards)

Rool may not be the most celebrated name in terms of achievements, but when it comes to notoriety for on-field indiscipline, referees in France can certainly vouch for his reputation.

The French defensive midfielder spent his entire club career in France, representing clubs such as Bastia, Lens, and Nice. Rool's indiscipline was so pronounced that he amassed over 187 yellow cards and a staggering total of 27 red cards before retiring from the game.

Beyond his disciplinary record, he is also widely recognized for his aggressive tackling, earning him the moniker 'notorious wind-up merchant.'

Ruano Delgado – (22 Red Cards)

Delgado earns a spot on our roster of footballers, boasting the highest number of red cards in the history of the game, tallying a total of 22 throughout his career.

The Spanish player's legacy is marked by a notable altercation with former Croatia international Mario Mandzukic, where he infamously landed a punch to Mandzukic's face during a match.

Before ultimately retiring from the sport, Delgado accumulated over 321 appearances while representing various clubs in Spain, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia during the latter stages of his club career.

Rafael Marquez – (21 Red Cards)

Marquez's legacy is etched in the annals of the game as one of the most exceptional defenders to grace both national and club levels, showcasing immense talent and skill throughout his professional football career.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that, despite his brilliance on the field, he did not boast the same level of discipline as reflected in his red card statistics.

As the former captain of Barcelona and Mexico, Marquez enjoyed a highly successful football journey, securing two Champions League trophies and clinching four La Liga titles with the Blaugrana. Nevertheless, his on-field discipline did not mirror the success he achieved in terms of silverware.

Paolo Montero (21 red cards)

Labelling him as one of Serie A's most relentless and lethal defenders would be accurate, given his unyielding commitment to winning, even if it entailed resorting to fouls.

Although Montero has since retired from playing, his legacy endures in the record books as he holds the distinction of receiving the highest number of red cards in Serie A history, totalling 21, per GiveMeSport.

Matteo Contini – (20 Red Cards)

If there's a fitting epithet for Contini, "defensive hard-man" would be apt, capturing both his qualities as a defender and the fiery temperament he occasionally displayed. This former Italy defender was renowned for his tenacity and toughness, often finding himself in the referee's book for moments of on-field intensity.

Contini carved out a notable career, particularly during his days at Napoli. However, unlike some of Italy's revered figures known for their ruthless and tough demeanour, Contini's reputation wasn't as much rooted in discipline.

Despite not attaining the same level of renown for his comportment, the former Napoli defender left his mark while donning the jerseys of various clubs, including AC Milan, Parma, and Real Zaragoza in Spain.

Sergio Ramos receives first red card of the season

Sergio Ramos was back in his element in Sevilla's 2-1 defeat away to Real Sociedad in La Liga, Sports Brief reported earlier.

The veteran defender made a dangerous tackle on Sociedad winger Brais Mendez as his team was still chasing an equalizer.

Isaac Darko photo
Isaac Darko
Isaac Darko is a La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga editor at Sports Brief with a Degree in Journalism and Communications from Ghana Institute of Journalism (2010)