Ronaldo and Messi in a most-capped international XI

Editor F365
Ronaldo and Messi in action for Portugal and Argentina

Gareth Bale joined the 100 club this past weekend after starting for Wales in their emphatic 5-1 win over Belarus. But the former Spurs man is still behind Chris Gunter in the race to become the Dragons’ most capped player. Here’s an XI made up from players who lead the way in appearances for their country. 


Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
With 176 appearances for Italy, Gianluigi Buffon is 40 caps clear of nearest challenger Fabio Cannavaro. The Juventus legend has plenty of rivals for the number one spot in this side though, including England’s representative: Peter Shilton. If you fancy a goalkeeper challenge, try naming five former Premier League ‘keepers who are their country’s most-capped players. 


Right-back: Cafu (Brazil)
Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning captain Cafu keeps former Chelsea star and Serbia’s leading man Branislav Ivanovic out of the side. Chris Gunter shockingly misses out too. Cafu’s total of 142 caps puts him clear of seven other Brazilians to have amassed a century of appearances for their country, with Neymar the only active player looking able to dethrone him.  


Centre-back: Lillian Thuram (France)
Cafu’s presence at right-back means Lillian Thuram can slot in at centre-back, with the Frenchman ending his international career with the same number of caps as his Brazilian counterpart . Thuram’s top-dog status with Les Bleus is threatened by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who will more than likely surpass the 1998 World Cup winner’s total next year.  


Centre-back: Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Despite missing out on Spain’s European Championship squad this summer, Sergio Ramos is still the leading man for La Roja. The ex Real Madrid skipper and master of the dark arts has collected 180 caps over a sixteen year period, winning Euros ‘08 and ’12, as well as the World Cup in 2010. 


Left-back: Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)
Former Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen starts at left-back for this side and he continues to be a regular in the Belgian backline at the age of 34. The Red Devils’ golden generation dominate the list of the country’s most-capped players, with six of them surpassing Jan Ceulemans’ previous record of 94.

Jan Vertonghen and Kevin de Bruyne


Central midfield: Lothar Matthaus (Germany)
Germany’s 1990 World Cup winning captain, Lothar Matthaus has 150 caps to his name, a total made more impressive considering his long absence from the international scene in the mid-nineties. Matthaus missed out on Die Mannschaft’s Euro 96 win but returned for the World Cup in France two years later. He finally retired at the age of 39 following a dismal Euro 2000 campaign. 


Central midfield: Luka Modric (Croatia)
Luka Modric looks set to reach the 150-cap mark himself and will have the chance to shine at another World Cup following Croatia’s late win over Russia at the weekend. The Real Madrid star won the Golden Ball three years ago as he led his country to the final and he’ll be hoping there’s one last hurrah to be had in Qatar.   


Winger: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Like Modric, Lionel Messi knows the pain of a World Cup final defeat. Captain of Argentina in their extra-time loss to Germany in 2014, Messi finally broke his international hoodoo this year, with victory over Brazil in the Copa America. The tournament also saw him pass Javier Mascherano as La Albiceleste’s most-capped player.   


Winger: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Portugal will have to navigate a play-off to reach the World Cup in Qatar but even if they miss out, who would bet against Cristiano Ronaldo strutting his stuff stateside in 2026 at the age of 41? Despite all the ridiculous record-breaking statistics, the Manchester United forward still needs to make 36 more appearances for his country to complete the most capped male footballer of all-time challenge.  


Striker: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Ronaldo faces competition for that particular record in the form of Bader Al-Mutawa, who is the proud owner of 188 caps. That’s four more than the Portuguese superstar and sits him at second in the all-time rankings. However, the 36 year-old Kuwait striker’s gargantuan tally doesn’t earn him a spot in this side, with Bayern Munich goalscoring machine Robert Lewandowski qualifying for the team as Poland’s most capped player. 


Striker: Kenny Dalglish (Scotland)
Kenny Dalglish joins Lewandowski up top, with the Liverpool legend the only Scotsman to have amassed 100 international caps. None of his fellow countrymen look likely to hit a century any time soon, so Dalglish and Ronaldo look set for a long-term battle over the number 7 shirt. Other eligible forwards include Robbie Keane, Asamoah Gyan, Edin Dzeko, Goran Pandev and Emmanuel Adebayor.  



James Wiles – whose Instagram has a whole load more XIs