What is a Cap in Soccer?

As nations such as England, Argentina, and Brazil debate over who should be in or out of their national team tournament squads, the word “cap” is often used to compare the chances of different players. So in soccer what is a cap?

The Definition of a Cap

A cap in soccer refers to the number of times a player has represented their national team in an official international match. It is a representation of the player’s experience and contribution to their country’s soccer history.

Do Players Get an Actual Cap?

Many people seem to think that the physical cap has disappeared from the modern game, but this footballing phenomenon still exists in some places.

How Does a Soccer Player Earn a Cap In Soccer?

To earn a cap in soccer, a player must participate in an official international match for their national team. This can include games played within a FIFA World Cup, games in the qualifying competitions for a World Cup, continental competitions and their qualifying games, friendly matches between senior national teams, and even Olympic final and qualifying matches.

Can a Player Earn a Cap for Multiple Teams?

Yes, it is possible for a player to earn a cap for multiple national teams if they are eligible and choose to represent different nations throughout their career. However, once a player has represented one national team in an official match, they are usually ineligible to switch to another national team.

Who Has the Most Caps in Soccer?

Association football has a long and rich history, and many players have reached impressive milestones in terms of international caps. Let’s take a look at some of the players who have racked up the most international soccer match caps over the years.

Men’s Soccer

In total, well over 500 men’s players have notched 100+ caps for their international side. Below are the select few names at the top of that list (according to FIFA’s official stats):

  1. Bader Al-Mutawa – Kuwait – 196 caps (Still active)
  2. Soh Chin Ann – Malaysia – 195 caps (Retired)
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal – 191 caps (Still active)
  4. Ahmed Hassan – Egypt – 184 caps (Retired)
  5. Ahmed Mubarak – Oman – 180 caps (Still active)
  6. Sergio Ramos – Spain – 180 caps (Still active)
  7. Andrés Guardado – Mexico – 179 caps (Still active)
  8. Mohamed Al-Deayea – Saudi Arabia – 178 caps (Retired)
  9. Claudio Sánchez – Mexico – 177 caps (Retired)
  10. Maynor Figueroa – Honduras – 175 caps (Still active)

Women’s Soccer

The list of players with the most caps in women’s soccer is dominated by American players:

  1. Kristine Lilly – United States – 354 caps (Retired)
  2. Christine Sinclair – Canada – 319 caps (Still active)
  3. Carli Lloyd – United States – 316 caps (Retired)
  4. Christie Pearce – United States – 311 caps (Retired)
  5. Mia Hamm – United States – 276 caps (Retired)
  6. Julie Foudy – United States – 274 caps (Retired)
  7. Abby Wambach – United States – 255 caps (Retired)
  8. Joy Fawcett – United States – 241 caps (Retired)
  9. Formiga – Brazil – 234 caps (Still active)
  10. Caroline Seger – Sweden – 232 caps (Still active)


The concept of caps in soccer represents the number of times a player has represented their national team in an official international match. It is a symbol of the player’s experience and contribution to their country’s soccer history. Both men’s and women’s soccer have seen players accumulate impressive numbers of caps, showcasing their dedication and talent on the international stage.

If you’re interested in learning more about the beautiful game, our website offers a wealth of informative content that covers various aspects of soccer, including tactics, history, and influential figures in the sport. Check out our guide to 10 soccer books to broaden your knowledge and deepen your love for the game.

About The Author

Fred Garratt-Stanley is a freelance football writer, Norwich City fan, and amateur footballer for South London side AFC Oldsmiths. With a passion for the game, he has covered subjects such as set-piece coaching, xG in football, and the growth of tactical ideas like gegenpressing and zonal marking. His writings on football have been featured in publications such as British GQ, VICE, FanSided, Football League World, and more. With 15 years of experience, Fred brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to the world of soccer content.

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