Not only did Gary Lineker never received a red card in his career; but he was NEVER even shown a yellow card!!!
Football is a contact sport and due to its very physical nature, the probability of a player getting booked before the end of a match is always very high.
While some footballers are renowned for avoiding bookings, others have carved a reputation for always getting into the referee’s book.
Football players can get booked for many reasons like a deliberate foul, simulation or even for talking back at the referee.
That is why it is not easy for footballers to play a number of games without getting booked. It is even more difficult for a player to end his playing career without ever getting red-carded.
But some players have impressively managed to achieve this rare feat……
In this article, FootballOrbit presents you with 16 star footballers that never received a red card throughout their entire careers.
1. Stanley Matthews
Regarded as one of the greatest British players of all-time, Sir Stanley Matthews never received a yellow or red card during his long 33-year career — which lasted from 1932 to 1965!!!
Moreso, he kept fit enough to play at the top level until he was 50 years old!
He was the oldest ever player to play in England’s top football division (50 years and 5 days), and the oldest ever player to represent England (42 years and 104 days).
Stanley Mattews won the first ever Ballon d’Or award in 1956.
He was never booked or sent off throughout his entire 33-year career because he rarely tackled opponents and would never retaliate to the many extremely physical challenges he received.
2. Michel Platini
Former UEFA President, Michel Platini, is one of the best footballers that France has ever produced.
He is also among the soccer players who never received a red card in their careers.
Platini made a total of 652 appearances during his career for club and country but was never shown a single red card in any one of these appearances — despite being a midfielder!
3. Gary Lineker
Nowadays, Gary Lineker is popular as a broadcaster on TV but he was once a celebrated footballer.
In a very accomplished career, Lineker played for Premier League sides Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.
He also had a very successful stint with Barcelona between 1986 and 1989.
He was top scorer at the 1986 FIFA World Cup — despite England getting eliminated at the quarterfinals.
Not only did Lineker never received a red card in his career, but he was never even shown a yellow card!
This was despite playing across more than 500 games for club and country.
4. Dominique Rocheteau
Dominique Rocheteau was a prolific goalscorer for PSG and won Euro 1984 with France.
He never received a red card in his entire career and picked up just three yellow cards across 571 games!
Legendary striker, Raul, played for Real Madrid for 16 years from 1994 to 2010 — making 741 appearances across all competitions.
During his glorious career, Raul played a total of 1,044 matches for club and country but astonishingly, never received a single red card.
However, he received 46 yellow cards in his career.
6. Karim Benzema
A creative and prolific forward, Karim Benzema is Real Madrid’s second-highest all-time goalscorer and the top assist provider.
He has won 23 trophies with Real Madrid — including 4 La Liga, 2 Copa del Rey and 5 UEFA Champions League titles.
So far in his career, Benzema has never been sent off despite his regular battles with defenders in his quest for goals and assists.
He was one of the players that impressed in the 2021/22 season.
His performances saw him win the 2022 Ballon d’Or.
7. Andrés Iniesta
Considered one of the greatest midfielders of all time, Andrés Iniesta spent most of his career at Barcelona — where he made 674 appearances for the club.
Also, he made 131 for Spain, with whom he won the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
In the World Cup final, Iniesta scored one of the most epic and dramatic last-minute goals in football history.
Furthermore, he is the only footballer in history to win the Man of the Match award in a World Cup final, a Euro final and a Champions League final.
Due to his easy-going nature, Iniesta (despite being a box-to-box midfielder) never received a red card in his career.
8. Hernan Crespo
Hernan Crespo was a prolific striker during his playing days. The Argentine scored over 300 goals in a career spanning 19 years.
At international level, he scored 35 goals and is Argentina’s 4th highest goalscorer — behind only Sergio Agüero, Gabriel Batistuta and Lionel Messi.
He played in three FIFA World Cups: 1998, 2002, 2006.
Crespo was once the world’s most expensive player when he was bought by Lazio from Parma in 2000 for €56 million (£35.5 million).
And in his first season with Lazio, he was the top scorer in Serie A with 26 goals — in the 2000/01 season.
Crespo never received a red card during his career.
9. Philipp Lahm
Philipp Lahm was a versatile footballer capable of playing as a full-back/wing-back on both wings or as a midfielder. This is due to his tactical intelligence, passing, crossing ability and composure on the ball.
Lahm maintained an unblemished record of never getting sent off in his career — despite never shying away from making sliding tackles regularly.
Pep Guardiola once said “Philipp Lahm is perhaps the most intelligent player I have ever trained in my career. He is at another level!”
10. Joao Moutinho
Portuguese midfielder, Joao Moutinho, has played for various clubs in his career and has been one of the most disciplined players ever.
The 36-year-old won the Euro Championship with Portugal in 2016 and currently plays for EPL side, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Moutinho has gone over 800 matches for club and country without ever receiving a red card!
11. Gaetano Scirea
For a midfielder to go their entire career without ever sent off is remarkable, but a defender doing so is something else…..
Gaetano Scirea was a great defender who won almost everything: Serie A, European Cup, UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and even the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 1982.
He played nearly 700 matches in his illustrious career and picked up some few yellow cards, but never received a red card!!!
12. Marco Bode
Marco Bode reached the 2002 World Cup final with Germany and won the Bundesliga, German Cup as well as the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Werder Bremen.
The left-winger spent his entire career at Bremen and picked up zero red cards and just 13 bookings across more than 500 games at the highest level.
13. Ryan Giggs
A one club man, Ryan Giggs played for Manchester United during his long 24 years career which lasted from the 1990 to 2014.
He made a total of 963 appearances for the Red Devils and is one of the 10 greatest Manchester United players of all-time.
Giggs was never sent off in his 24-season playing career for Manchester United, which is remarkable; but was once sent off when playing for Wales.
14. Giorgos Sideris
Giorgos Sideris played for Atromitos Piraeus, Olympiacos and Royal Antwerp.
The Greek forward led the Olympiacos attack for 11 years from 1959 and scored 224 goals in 284 games.
This includes 70 goals in the Greek Cup and 6 in the final of the tournament — both records still stand till date.
In 1970, Sideris became the first Greek footballer to move abroad — signing for Belgian side, Royal Antwerp.
Known for his power and battles with defenders, he amazingly never received a red card in his career.
15. Aaron Hughes
Former Newcastle and Fulham defender, Aaron Hughes, is renowned for his disciplined defending.
He amassed 455 appearances in the Premier League and had 112 caps for Northern Ireland but never saw a red card.
Hughes once said: “When you are sent off, you’re instantly the loser.”
16. Damien Duff
Republic of Ireland winger, Damien Duff, played for the likes of Blackburn, Chelsea, Newcastle, Fulham, Melbourne City and Shamrock Rovers.
Duff made more than 700 outings for club and country in a career spanning 19 years. But his cool temperament saw him avoid a red card throughout his career.