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International Cap

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Title: International Cap  
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Subject: Terry Venables
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International Cap

For the physical headgear, see cap.

In sport, a cap is a metaphorical term for a player's appearance on a select team, such as a national team. The term dates from the practice in the United Kingdom of awarding a cap (an item of headgear) to every player in an international match of association football. In the early days of football, the concept of each team wearing a set of matching shirts had not been universally adopted, so each side would distinguish itself from the other by wearing a specific sort of cap. Contrary to popular belief, "cap" is not an acronym for Country Appearance.

An early illustration of the first international football match between England and Scotland in 1872 shows the Scottish players wearing cowls, and the English wearing a variety of school caps. The practice was first approved on 10 May 1886 for association football after a proposal made by N. Lane Jackson, founder of the Corinthians:

That all players taking part for England in future international matches be presented with a white silk cap with red rose embroidered on the front. These to be termed International Caps.

The act of awarding a cap is now international and is applied to other sports. Actual caps are not always given anymore, but the term "cap" for an international or other appearance has been retained. Thus, a cap is awarded for each game played and so a player who has played x games, for the team, is said to have been capped x times or have won x caps.

Association football

The world record holder for the highest number of international caps as of 24 January 2006 is retired American football player Kristine Lilly, who has over 350 caps in women's association football. In men's association football, the record belongs to active player Ahmed Hassan of Egypt; he surpassed Mohamed Al-Deayea with his 178th cap on 27 March 2012. The first footballer to win 100 international caps was Billy Wright of England's Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wright went on to appear 105 times for England, 90 of them he obtained whilst he was a captain.

FIFA rules state that any club that refuses to release a player for national team duty is barred from using the player for two matches, a rule which is intended to discourage clubs from pretending that the player is injured. However, it is a player's choice to refuse to play for and/or retire from their national team. Thus, Claude Makélélé had willingly accepted the call-up to the national team for the Euro 2008 qualifiers and was not forced by national coach Raymond Domenech, contrary to Chelsea manager José Mourinho's assertion that Domenech was treating Claude Makélélé like a slave and refusing to honor his retirement.[1] In the same qualification tournament, Ruud van Nistelrooy had refused a call-up request from national manager Marco van Basten.


Some current leading holders of association football caps (men as of 5 August 2013, women as of 23 January 2012) are:


Bold denotes players currently active in international football.


Bold denotes players currently active in international football.


In cricket, there are two types of caps. Firstly, there is the international type, as described above. Some countries also award a domestic type generally known as a "county cap". The latter system is most commonly applied in English county cricket. Most counties do not automatically award caps to players on their first appearance; instead, they have to be "earned" through good performances. Indeed, one can play at the highest domestic level for several years, and have a quite significant career in first-class cricket, without ever winning a cap.


The world record for the number of caps in Test cricket is held by Sachin Tendulkar of India, who has, over the course of a 22-year career, collected 198, as of March 2013. Tendulkar also holds the record for One Day Internationals, with 463 caps.

Rugby Union

In rugby union, 20 players have reached 100 international caps as of 5 June 2012. Players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are eligible for selection to the British and Irish Lions touring squad. Lions matches are classed as full international tests, and caps are awarded. The Pacific Islanders team, composed of players from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Niue and Cook Islands have a similar arrangement, although no players involved have so far reached 100 caps (Fijian Nicky Little is closest with 65 caps).

Players still active at Test level are in bold type.

Rugby League

In rugby league, two players have reach past 50 Test games. The record for most caps is held by former Australian Kangaroos player & captain Darren Lockyer with 59 games and second place is former New Zealand Kiwis player & captain Ruben Wiki with 55 games.

Players still active at Test level are in bold type.

  • Australia — 59 [1998 to 2011]
  • New Zealand - 55 [1994 to 2006]
  • New Zealand - 46 [1995 to 2006]
  • New Zealand - 46 [1986 to 1996]
  • Australia — 46 [1982 to 1994]
  • New Zealand - 45 [1993 to 2004]
  • Australia — 44 [2001 to 2011]

The most capped Briton is Warrington Wolves forward Adrian Morley who has 52 caps (30 for Great Britain, 22 for England).


External links

  • Men's Records and Facts FIFA
  • Players with 100+ Caps (men) RSSSF
  • Picture of International Football Cap National Museum of Scotland
  • Gallery of International Caps and Honours Caps
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