This most world cup appearances by player list include some of the greatest individual talents in the history of the World Cup, players who have consistently performed at a high level over a long period of time and have made a significant impact on the game. Lionel Messi, of Argentina, has made 26 world cup appearances in 5 FIFA World Cup tournaments. He made his first appearance in the World Cup in 2006 and has also played in the 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022 tournaments. Messi wins the 2022 FIFA World Cup with the Argentine national team after 36 years wait in Qatar.
These players have achieved a level of excellence that few others have matched, and their longevity and consistency make them some of the all-time greats of the World Cup.
Here is a list of some of the greatest individual talents in soccer who have combined longevity and excellence, along with their number of World Cup appearances recognized as the most world cup appearances by player.
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina) – 26 matches in 5 FIFA World Cups
Lionel Messi, the current FIFA World Cup winner, has participated in five FIFA World Cups, making his tournament debut in 2006 in Germany. Messi played in his 25th World Cup match, against Croatia, in the 2022 semi-final, setting the record for most appearances with his presence in 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022 World Cup squad for Argentina. Lionel Messi has broken the record for the most FIFA World Cup appearances by a professional soccer player. As a player Messi took to the field for the 26th time in a World Cup tournament, passing Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose in the process.
2. Lothar Matthaus (West Germany) – 25 matches in 5 FIFA World Cup
Matthaus, who appeared in more than 150 matches for Germany, played in 25 World Cup matches which is second on the list of most world cup appearances by a player for the country. He participated in five FIFA World Cup tournaments (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, and 1998), and was a key player for the German team that won the 1990 World Cup, where he also scored a game-winning goal against Czechoslovakia in the quarterfinals.
In 1994 and 1998, Matthaus was chosen to lead the squad as captain and also won the Ballon d’Or, in 1990. In addition to his great success with the national team, Matthaus had a successful club career, playing for several top teams in Germany and Italy.
3. Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 24 matches in FIFA World Cup
Miroslav Klose played 24 World Cup matches for the German national team and holds the record for the most goals scored in the World Cup. Against Brazil, with a goal, Miroslav Klose broke Ronaldo’s 15-goal record. Miroslav Klose is the all-time leading goal scorer in the FIFA World Cup history from 1930-2022, having scored a total of 16 goals across his four World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014). He holds the record for the most goals scored in the tournament, surpassing Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who had previously held the record with 15 goals.
Klose made his World Cup debut in 2002 and went on to play in four more tournaments (2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018). In 2014, he scored a crucial goal against Brazil in the semi-finals of the tournament, which helped Germany advance to the final. Klose also played in the final against Argentina, which Germany won 1-0 in extra time to claim the FIFA World Cup trophy.
4. Paolo Maldini (Italy) – 23 Matches in FIFA World Cup
Paolo Maldini was a legendary defender who played for AC Milan and the Italian national team. He made his international debut for Italy in 1988 and went on to represent his country at four World Cups, including the 1990 tournament where he reached the final. Although he was unable to win the World Cup with Italy, he had a highly successful career at the club level over two and half decades, winning multiple domestic and international titles with AC Milan. Paolo Maldini appeared 23 times for Italy at the 4 World Cups. Maldini also had a long and successful international career, earning 126 caps for Italy. He was famous for his defensive skills, leadership, and sportsmanship, and is considered one of the greatest defenders in the history of football.
5. Diego Maradona (Argentina) – 21 matches in FIFA World Cup
Since the 1986 FIFA World Cup is often remembered as “Diego Maradona’s World Cup” due to his standout performance in the entire tournament. Maradona wins the 1986 FIFA World Cup being a key player for the Argentine national team in that tournament, scoring five goals and leading Argentina to the World Cup title. After 36 years Messi made Maradona’s dream come true by taking the responsibility to lead the Argentine team to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup title in Qatar. He is widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of football and is known for his exceptional dribbling skills and goalscoring ability.
Diego Maradona made a total of 21 appearances in four FIFA World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994) and scored 8 goals in total. He is also remembered for his controversial “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup, in which he used his hand to punch the ball into the goalpost during a quarterfinal match against England. Despite the controversy surrounding the goal, Maradona is still revered by many football fans for his talent and passion for the game. If he was alive today he would’ve been the most happiest and proud about what Leonel Messi did to become the World Champions.
6. Uwe Seeler (Germany) – 21 matches in FIFA World Cup
Uwe Seeler was a legendary striker who is considered one of the greatest players in the history of German football. The former Hamburger SV forward Uwe Seeler is one of the most decorated players in the history of German football and is considered one of the all-time greats of the sport. He made a total of 21 appearances in the World Cup, which is a record that he was the first player to create the record to most world cup appearances by player. Seeler made his World Cup debut in 1958 and went on to represent Germany in three more editions of the tournament. He played a key role in their run to the final in the 1966 World Cup final, where they were beaten by England.
Uwe Seeler was inducted into the German Football Hall of Fame in 1999 and was named one of the 100 greatest living footballers by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics in 2004. Uwe Seeler, who led West Germany to the 1966 World Cup final as captain of the national team, died on 21 July 2022 at the age of 85.
7. Wladyslaw Zmuda – 21 matches in 4 FIFA World Cups
Wladyslaw Zmuda, is considered one of the greatest Polish footballers of all time, Zmuda made a total of 21 appearances for Poland in the World Cup, and he participated in the tournament four times, from 1974 to 1986. In his first appearance at the World Cup in 1974, Zmuda was named the best young player of the tournament, and Poland finished third overall. He was also part of the Polish team that reached the quarter-finals in 1982. Zmuda is widely regarded as one of the greatest Polish footballers of all time, and his contributions to the national team are remembered with great pride and admiration in Poland.
8. Cafu (Brazil) – 20 matches in 3 FIFA World Cups
Cafu is the only player in history to appear in three different World Cup finals, and he holds the record for the most appearances in the World Cup for the most successful team in the tournament, Brazil. He was a key part of the Brazilian national team that won the World Cup in 1994 and 2002, and he also played in the 1998 World Cup, where Brazil lost to France in the final. Cafu made a total of 20 appearances for Brazil in the FIFA World Cup, which is the 8th most for any player in the history of the tournament. He is also remembered for his tireless running and attacking play, which made him the best right back of the Brazilian team’s attacking threat.
9. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) – 20 matches in World Cup
Bastian Schweinsteiger is one of the most decorated and respected footballer who had a successful career both at the club and international level. He is know as a Bayern Munich and German legend, and he is one of the fourth soccer player on the list of Germany’s most-capped players of all time with 124 appearances for the national team. He made 20 appearances at the World Cup, including at 2006, the 2010, and 2014 tournaments. His standout performance at the 2014 World Cup was in the final against Argentina, where he played a key role in defending against Lionel Messi and helping Germany win the FIFA World Cup title.
10. Philipp Lahm (Germany) – 20 matches in 3 World Cups
Philipp Lahm is considered one of the greatest full-backs in the history of football. He was known for his discipline, tactical intelligence, and technical ability, and he enjoyed a highly successful career at both the domestic and international levels. Lahm made a total of 113 appearances for the German national team, and he played in three FIFA World Cups (2006, 2010, and 2014).
He was a key featured player of the German team that won the World Cup in 2014, and he was named in the World Cup All-Star Team for his performances in the tournament. Lahm also captained the German team in the 2014 World Cup, and he played every minute of the tournament. After the World Cup, Lahm retired from international football, but he continued to play for Bayern Munich until his retirement in 2017.
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FAQs about most world cup appearances by player
Lionel Messi now holds the record for most world cup appearances by player. The Argentine player Messi played his 26th match during a World Cup final match in Qatar, and overtaken the previous records of Lothar Matthäus and Miroslav Klose.
Along with the German Lothar Matthaus, the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Mexicans Antonio Carbajal, Andres Guardado, and Rafael Marquez, and the current world cup winner Lionel Messi is the FIFA World Cup player with the most games played with 26. Only these six players have taken the field in five different tournaments.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. It is a huge achievement for any player to be able to participate in it if this article helped you learn more about most world cup appearances by player. We have compiled a list of the Top 50 players who has made most world cup appearances. The information was gathered from the Wikipedia updates, for the World Cup winners article.
Participating in the FIFA World Cup is a great honor for any soccer player, as it is an opportunity to represent their country and compete against the best nations and players in the world. Winning the World Cup title is also one of the greatest achievements a player can have in their football career, and it can bring great fame, best market value, good oppurtunities and success to the players who are able to do so. We’d like to mention that our website data is subject to change at any time, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.