Should the retiring Philipp Lahm manage to avoid a red card for the remainder of the season, the Bayern München captain will have gone through an entire career without being dismissed. UEFA.com profiles a few other players who managed that feat, and a couple who have just missed out.
Raúl González (Real Madrid, Schalke, al-Sadd, New York Cosmos Spain)
Seventeen years as a player; 388 goals in 932 club games; 44 more strikes for Spain; UEFA Champions League triumphs in 1998, 2000 and 2002 (including becoming the first player to score in two finals) and six Spanish titles among a vast trophy haul; no red cards.
Gary Lineker (Leicester, Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham, Nagoya Grampus Eight England)
A career total of 281 goals in 567 matches is impressive enough, but the former England striker wasn’t just never sent off – he never even picked up so much as a yellow card.
Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona Spain)
Another player whose career has been garlanded with trophies at club and international levels, Iniesta has made more than 750 appearances for club and country without being dismissed.
Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid France)
The all-time French top scorer at Real Madrid and in the Liga has 649 matches under his belt and has never been sent off.
João Moutinho (Porto, Sporting CP, Monaco Portugal)
The 30-year-old midfielder is continuing his impressive disciplinary record at Monaco, for whom he’s now made 153 appearances, to add to his 140 at Porto, 259 with Sporting and 94 for Portugal. Throw in 17 Under-21 caps and that’s 663 professional games without seeing red.
Michel Platini (Nancy, Saint-Étienne, Juventus France)
The triple Ballon d’Or winner played 655 games for club and country without a disciplinary blemish. “Football was more violent than today,” he said in 2014. “Nowadays referees protect players better than before with yellow and red cards, which is great for the spectacle.”
Gaetano Scirea (Atalanta, Juventus Italy)
Unanimously regarded as a ‘gentleman’ of Italian football, Scirea distinguished himself for his honesty and elegance on and off the field. A 1982 FIFA World Cup winner, he had 14 of his 16 pro seasons with Juventus, becoming the first player to win all three major UEFA club trophies alongside Antonio Cabrini. He died in 1989 in a car crash in Poland while scouting for Juve.
Damien Duff (Blackburn, Chelsea, Newcastle, Fulham, Melbourne City, Shamrock Rovers Republic of Ireland)
A much-travelled winger, Duff made more than 700 outings for club and country in a career spanning 19 years.
Aaron Hughes (Newcastle, Aston Villa, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Brighton, Melbourne City, Kerala Blasters, Hearts Northern Ireland)
The former Newcastle and Fulham defender amassed 455 appearances in the Premier League and has collected 103 (and counting) caps for Northern Ireland without ever warranting a red card. Hughes believes: “When you’re sent off, you’re instantly the loser.”
Marco Bode (Werder Bremen Germany)
The left-winger spent his entire career at Bremen, whom he now serves as chairman. A 2002 World Cup finalist, 1992 European Cup Winners’ Cup winner, Bundesliga champion and three-time German Cup winner, he was booked only 13 times in 529 matches.
Giorgos Sideris (Atromitos Piraeus, Olympiacos, Royal Antwerp Greece)
He led the Olympiacos attack for 11 years from 1959, scoring 224 goals in 284 games – including 70 in the Greek Cup and six in the final itself, both still records. In 1970 he became the first Greek footballer to move abroad, signing for Belgian side Royal Antwerp. Known for his power and battles with defenders, but never dismissed.
Dinos Kouis (Agrotikos Asteras, Aris Greece)
Arguably Aris’s greatest player having spent 17 years there between 1974 and 1991, the all-action midfielder got 142 goals in 473 league matches and remains the Yellows’ record scorer and appearance maker.
Ján Popluhár (Slovan Bratislava, Rudá Hvězda Brno, Lyon, Zbrojovka Brno, Slovan Wien Czechoslovakia)
Voted Slovakia’s best player of the 20th century, the defender won a fair play award in 1967 and was never sent off in 306 league fixtures or 62 international appearances.
Dudu Georgescu (Progresul Bucureşti, CSM Reşiţa, Dinamo Bucureşti, Bacău, Gloria Buzău, Flacăra Moreni, Muscelul Câmpulung, Unirea Urziceni)
Considered a gentleman on and off the pitch, Georgescu played out most of his career with Dinamo, landing four league titles, a Romanian Cup once and the European Golden Shoe in 1975 and 1977.
Cüneyt Tanman (Galatasaray Turkey)
The refined captain of Galatasaray never saw red in his 17-year career, securing two championships and two Turkish Cups with the Istanbul giants in the 1980s.
Maxime Bossis (Nantes, RC Paris France)
In 710 games with club and country, the defender elicited only four yellow cards; he was a European champion with France in 1984.
Dominique Rocheteau (Saint-Étienne, Paris, Toulouse France)
Another EURO ’84 winner with Les Bleus, the forward – nicknamed ‘The green angel’ – was booked just three times in a career spanning 571 matches.
Andrej Kvašňák (Sparta Praha Czechoslovakia)
Voted Sparta’s player of the century, Kvašňák – a runner-up in the 1962 World Cup – was never sent off in 433 club fixtures and was famed for offering referees help in calming down any flashpoints.
And a couple of near misses …
Ryan Giggs: Never dismissed in 963 Manchester United outings, Giggs also compiled 62 caps for Wales – one of which, against Norway in 2001, ended in an early bath after two bookings.
Lionel Messi: No red cards for Barcelona but his Argentina career could scarcely have got off to a worse start as he was sent off for retaliation a minute after emerging against Hungary in an August 2005 friendly. Fifty-seven international goals since have made up for it.