10 Players With Most Red Cards In The 21st Century: Real Madrid Legend Sergio Ramos Tops List

Sergio Ramos Red Card
Sergio Ramos Red Card

In soccer, match officials primarily have two weapons in their arsenal. Usually, they first try to defuse the situation verbally by going to the offender/offenders and asking them to cut it off. If that does not do the trick, they issue a yellow card, which lands the offenders on thin ice, as another of those would force them to leave the soccer pitch.

For most, the first Yellow Card does the trick, and they spend the rest of the game playing more cautiously. And those who still refuse to obey, get marching orders after seeing a second yellow.

In truly extreme circumstances, especially when there is dangerous play, the referee whips out a straight red card. Unlike a double yellow, a direct red card does not always come with just a one-match ban. More often than not, it carries a suspension of three games and above.

Needless to say, players do their best to avoid the double yellow or the straight red, but some players simply have not been able to stay away. Read on to meet the 10 players who have been sent off the most in the 21st century.

Stats via: Transfermarkt, based on top 10 leagues, all cup competitions, and national teams.

#10 Rafa Marquez – 15 Red Cards

Rafa Marquez Was Sent Off 15 Times
Rafa Marquez Won 2 UCL Trophies At Barcelona

Mexican legend Rafael Marquez picked up a whopping 15 red cards in 472 games for club and country in the 21st century. Overall, he was sent off a staggering 21 times during his remarkable career.

Infamous for his short temper, Marquez was a force to be reckoned with when he was not busy headbutting the opposition. He spent seven glorious years at Barcelona between 2003 and 2010, helping the team to four La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions League trophies amongst other honors. Marquez also won one Ligue 1 title with AS Monaco in 2000.

#9 Gonzalo Rodriguez – 15 Red Cards

Gonzalo Rodriguez Was Sent Off 15 Times
Gonzalo Rodriguez Played For Fiorentina And Villarreal

Former Argentina international Gonzalo Rodriguez is the ninth name on the list, having seen 15 reds in 464 games since 2001. His total career tally stands at 17.

The former center-back spent a good 13 years plying his trade in the top five European leagues. He first spent eight years at La Liga club Villarreal before spending the next five in Italy as a Fiorentina player. Rodriguez, however, never won a collective honor in Europe.

#8 Alberto Lopo – 15 Red Cards

Alberto Lopo Saw 15 Red Cards In His Career
Alberto Lopo Won 2 Copa del Rey Trophies

Amassing 15 red cards in just 444 matches, former Spanish center-back Alberto Lopo has claimed the eighth spot on this notorious list.

Lopo spent most of his career in Spain’s La Liga, representing Espanyol, Deportivo La Coruna, and Getafe over a 16-season spell. Although he never won the La Liga title, he celebrated two Copa del Rey wins with Espanyol in 2000 and 2006.

#7 Fernando Amorebieta – 15 Red Cards

Fernando Amorebieta Saw 15 Red Cards
Fernando Amorebieta Never Won A Trophy In Europe

Picking up a staggering 15 Red Cards in an embarrassing 322 games, Fernando Amorebieta established himself as a frequent offender during his playing career. Including his time outside the top 10 European leagues, Amorebieta amassed a total of 19 red cards.

The former center-back started his career at Athletic Bilbao before going on to represent Fulham, Middlesbrough, and Sporting Gijon. He was not fortunate enough to win silverware during his European journey.

#6 Pepe – 16 Red Cards

Pepe Has Seen 16 Red Cards
Pepe Has Won 3 UEFA Champions League Trophies In His Career

In terms of pure talent, former Real Madrid star Pepe is one of the best the game has ever seen, but his poor disciplinary record kept him from soaring even higher in his career. The Porto center-back has been sent off 16 times in 843 games, often for the most ludicrous tackles.

Pepe was at his worst during his time at Real Madrid. In 2009, he was banned for 10 days for lashing out at two Getafe players. Three years later, he infamously stamped on Lionel Messi’s hand during Los Blancos’ bout with Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarter-final. The Portugal icon, who won three La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League titles with Real Madrid, has fixed his act over the years, emerging as a sensible leader for Porto.

#5 Gary Medel – 16 Red Cards

Gary Medel Has Seen 16 Red Cards
Medel Won 2 Copa America Trophies With Chile

With 16 dismissals in 576 games in the 21st century, Gary Medel has claimed the fifth place on the list. Medel, who currently plays as a defensive midfielder for Brazilian side Vasco da Gama, has always had a penchant for going for rough tackles without thinking twice about the consequences.

The former Sevilla, Inter Milan, Besiktas, and Bologna player has been an icon for Chile in international soccer. With him shielding the backline, the South American nation won two Copa America trophies in 2015 and 2016, with both of those wins coming at Argentina‘s expense.

#4 Philippe Mexes – 16 Red Cards

Philippe Mexes Saw 16 Red Cards
Mexes Won 4 Trophies In Italy

In fourth place, we have former France international Philippe Mexes, who saw 16 red cards in 552 games.

Mexes spent the majority of his career at AS Roma, seeing 43 yellow cards and six red cards between 2004 and 2011. He spent the next five years at AC Milan, during which he saw 43 yellow cards and three reds. Mexes won four trophies in Italy, one Coppa Italia and one Supercoppa Italiana each with AS Roma and Milan.

#3 Thiago Motta – 16 Red Cards

Thiago Motta Saw 16 Red Cards
Thiago Motta Won 27 Trophies In His Career

Thiago Motta saw 16 red cards in 530 games in the 21st century, making him the most indisciplined Italian soccer player in history.

The former defensive midfielder represented some of the biggest teams in Europe: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). He won 27 careers in his career, including two UEFA Champions League trophies and seven league titles.

#2 Felipe Melo – 17 Red Cards

Felipe Melo Saw 17 Red Cards
Felipe Melo Won The 2009 Confed Cup With Brazil

Sitting proudly in second place is former Brazil center-back Felipe Melo, who has been dismissed 17 times in just 423 games in the 21st century.

Nicknamed the “Pitbull”, the 40-year-old Fluminense player played for some revered European teams, namely Juventus, Inter Milan, and Galatasaray. Melo, who won 22 international caps, won the Turkish Süper Lig twice with Galatasaray and the 2009 Confederations Cup with Brazil.

#1 Sergio Ramos – 28 Red Cards

Sergio Ramos Has Seen 28 Red Cards
Sergio Ramos Has Won 30 Trophies In His Career

At the summit sits Real Madrid and Spain icon Sergio Ramos, having seen a century-leading 28 red cards in 965 games.

The most accomplished player on the list by a landslide, Ramos has an infamously short fuse. The Sevilla star has seen cards for the silliest of reasons and needless tackles, hurting his teams’ chances of winning. However, despite his poor disciplinary record, Ramos’ legacy as a soccer player remains unchallenged. Throughout his career, Ramos has won a whopping 30 trophies, including the 2010 FIFA World Cup and two European Championships with Spain, and four UEFA Champions League trophies and five La Liga titles with Real Madrid.

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