Tighten Your Shinpads: Football Players With the Most Red Cards in Football History

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 16.1.2024.

No fair play awards were won by the footballers we are discussing here - these are the players that saw red most often. First in their mind, then in the referee's hand. While fouls exist for a reason, there's no denying that football players with the most red cards in football history give the sport an additional layer. It wouldn't be as fun without players like these.

Notably, most of the football players with the most red cards in football history we're discussing today are quite good players in their own right. This makes sense, as clubs aren't willing to tolerate mediocre players who often leave them numerically weaker.

#10 Gary Medel - 19 red cards

Gary Medel

A pitbull on the pitch, so it's not a surprise that Gary Medel has found himself on the list of players with the most red cards ever. He stands out as receiving the most red cards at the international level than any other player ranked here. The Chilean played 161 games for his country, getting sent off five times. In his club career, playing for Inter Milan, Bologna, Sevilla, Besiktas, Boca Juniors, Cardiff City, Vasco da Gama, and Universidad Catolica, he played 501 games and received 14 red cards. So far, as the 36-year-old is still active.

Representing his nation, the blood would boil more, as he received four direct red cards. Compared to five at a club level.

#9 Fernando Amorebieta - 20 red cards

Fernando Amorebieta.png
By Kane Brooker - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

A player who you wouldn't like to run into on the pitch, or in a dimly lit street. Fernando Amorebieta carried himself as he played, so it's not shocking that he tops the red cards awarded list. While he represented Venezuela at an international level, he was of Basque descent as his name suggests, and played 253 games for Athletic Bilbao. Receiving 12 red cards during the time. Overall, playing for Fulham, Sporting Gijon, Independiente, Middlesbrough, and Cerro Porteno, Amorebieta received 18 red cards, seven of them direct. While he played only 15 games for Venezuela, that was enough for him to get two straight red cards. The centre-back is now retired and forwards across the world can breathe a sigh of relief.

#8 Matteo Contini - 21 red cards

Matteo Contini

Matteo Contini gets a special achievement star for being one of the football players with the most red cards in football history who didn't get to play international football. No, Matteo did his honest work in Italy. Changing 15 clubs throughout his career, the centre-back received seven direct red cards, and the rest due to duplicate yellows. He played the most games for Parma (109), followed by Napoli (86), and he represented Atalanta, Monza, Bari, and Real Zaragoza in Spain.

#7 Paolo Montero - 22 red cards

Paolo Montero.jpg
By Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires from Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires,
Argentina Foto Sandra Hernandez-gv/GCBA. -
Cropped from 10-03-29 Irarrazaval - Clínica de fútbol de Zamorano, Davis y Montero, CC BY 2.0, Link

The Former Juventus and Atalanta player is the absolute recorder for the amount of direct red cards received amongst top players. Of his total 22 red cards, 16 came with the ref skipping the yellows. At Juve, the centre-back received 12 of his marching orders - in 278 games. For La Dea, he received eight in 128 matches played. With one red received while carrying the colours of San Lorenzo de Almagro. Montero represented Uruguay in 60 matches and received one straight red.

Montero is currently working as a Juventus U19 coach, so watch out for a breed of savages coming out of Turin in the next years.

#6 Gerardo Torrado - 22 red cards

Gerardo Torrado

One of the two members of the same national team on this list. The less famous one though, as Gerardo Torrado played mostly for Cruz Azul in Mexico, with a medium-lenght expedition in Spain with Sevilla, Tenerife, and Racing Santander. Torrardo got shown a second yellow twice with the national team. Including in the Copa America final his country lost. Although it came in the 90th minute, so he didn't let his teammates down too much.

Torrado was a solid defensive midfielder, getting 146 caps for Mexico. Yet his stint at Sevilla was probably cut short in part due to his three red cards, as they happened in just 47 games.

#5 Rafa Marquez - 23 red cards

Rafa Marquez

Perhaps the most surprising inclusion on the list of football players with the most red cards in football history. Because Barcelona's icon Rafa Marquez always gave away a calmer presence, fitting to a trusted veteran in the team. Yet, he played 633 competitive club games, and 147 for Mexico, and received 23 total red cards. Four playing for his national team. Although the centre-back - who played as a DM too - got 12 of his red cards due to a second yellow. Rafa played for six clubs and received at least two red cards at each of them!

#4 Felipe Melo - 24 red cards

Felipe Melo

A nomadic player who changed 12 clubs, and collected 21 red cards playing for them! The other two red cards he received on international duty with Brazil, even though he had only 22 caps! Melo received 13 direct red cards, and 10 by way of two yellows. The defensive midfielder also played in the centre of the pitch and as a centre-back. With versatility often a common factor for these players who received plenty of red cards. Unsurprisingly, Melo got the most of his red cards for Galatasaray. He played second-most games for that club, and in combination with the fiery Turkish fans edging him on, five red cards in 154 games is not a lot.

#3 Cyril Rool - 27 red cards

A player who was labelled as "The Antichrist" by the Spanish sports magazine As in 2009, Cyril Rool has managed to get the marching orders in 27 matches! He played in 353 Ligue 1 games and received 16 red cards during them. In all competitions, he got to that number to 27 red cards with 187 yellow cards. The left-back was a versatile player, operating in the centre of midfield if needed. But mostly a perspective player, getting five caps for France's U21 selection, and playing in over 100 matches for each of Bastia, Lens, and Nice. Representing other major French clubs like Monaco, Bordeaux, and Olympique Marseille too.

#2 Sergio Ramos - 29 red cards

Sergio Ramos

Probably the usual suspect on everyone's mind when thinking about players with the most red cards ever. Sergio Ramos fully earned his reputation, with 29 red cards in his illustrious career. The combative defender received 10 straight reds, eight while playing for Real Madrid, and one at both Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain. He however received another 19 red cards by a way of a second yellow! Only one of those occasions happened in France, the rest of them with Madrid. On the other hand, quite surprisingly, Sergio Ramos has never received a red card playing for the Red Fury - Spain. Even though he played in 180 matches for his nation.

#1 Gerardo Bedoya - 47 red cards

By Pipe26 - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Gerardo Bedoya is football's ultimate bad boy. The real one. Or the Red One. With 48 games for Colombia, he certainly wasn't a bad player too. Yet his legacy was written by the referees' highly lifted arms. Holding the red colour 47 times! Once playing for his national team, and the highest playing for Deportivo Cali - 14! And no, he didn't play for the club for over a decade. Two short stints, from 1998 to 2001, and then a bit in 2003. The defensive midfielder’s biggest offence got him suspended for 15 matches, after elbowing an opponent and trying to kick him.

Bedoya stands alone on the throne of moans and frantic calls to the bench for the medical teams. He has 18 red cards more than the man closest to him!

And no, we didn't forget about Pepe. He didn't do enough (scary thought) to earn a spot amongst players with the most red cards in history. Pepe received "only" 17 red cards. Although they were... memorable.


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