Sometimes a red mist descends. Sometimes, even the calmest players lose their head in the cauldron of passion that is a football game and get into a diabolical challenge that leaves the referee with no option but to send the him off.
While sometimes two serious fouls lead to two consecutive yellow cards and the player is shown the dreaded red, at other times, the seriousness of the action mandates a straight red according to the laws of the game.
Some of the actions that lead to a straight red in a football game include spitting on an opponent or another person, denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity unfairly and excessive verbal abuse.
The history of football is littered with famous red cards such as David Beckham losing his head and getting sent off in the World Cup for kicking out, or Roy Keane taking out Alfe-Inge Haland as part of an ongoing feud that Keane knew would end in red but didn't care. However, in general, the showing of a red card remains a rare occurrence in football and is considered a game-changing moment.
For the ten players who follow, though, getting a red card wasn't that rare an event. For them, the mist tended to descend a little too frequently one would assume. In this article, we will take a look at the 10 footballers with the most red cards in the history of the game.
10 players with the most red cards in football history
#10 Vinnie Jones- 12 reds
Now Vinnie Jones is the most talented man on this list. Like, really. Jones had a pretty distinguished football career and represented Wimbledon, Leeds, Sheffield United, Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers and also the Wales national team. His football career lasted for 15 years.
He then went on to capitalise on his hard-man image on the football field to become an actor in iconic films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
He has also worked as singer and presenter. But Jones was also good at one more thing. Getting red cards. 10th on this all-time list, Jones, the 'hard man' defensive midfielder got sent off 12 times during his career.
#9 Mauricio Pochettino- 13 reds
One of the most respected names on this list, Mauricio Pochettino won two Copa del Reys during his playing career with Espanyol. As a football player, he also played in France while representing his nation Argentina in the 2002 Fifa World Cup.
A good career on the pitch become an even more successful one off it as Pochettino rose to prominence as one of the most astute modern managers of the game. Pochettino was most recently in charge of a revitalised Tottenham Hotspur team whom he took to the 2018-19 Champions League final.
Interestingly, among many sports that he played in his childhood was judo. He possibly took that fighting instinct he acquired from learning martial arts into the game of football, becoming a tough-tackling centre-back who got 13 red cards during his career.
#8 Felipe Melo- 14 reds
One of the few active players on this list, Felipe Melo has had a pretty illustrious football career, but it is safe to say, he isn't the most 'mellow' footballer you will find. Melo, now 37, captains Palmeiras and has had spells in Europe with Fiorentina, Juventus, Inter Milan and Galatasaray, among others.
The defensive midfielder also played for Brazil in the 2010 World Cup in which the Selecao were knocked out in the quarter-finals. He won the 2009 Confederations Cup with them. The defensive midfielder has collected 14 red cards till now. One can feel he might add to it and move up this inglorious list if he keeps on playing for a few more seasons.
#7 Yannick Cahuzac- 17 reds
Yannick Cahuzac is another active defensive midfielder on this list. Albeit, he has had a far less illustrious career than Melo. However, with RC Lens having been promoted back to Ligue 1, he is back in the French top flight. Cahuzac once set a record for getting 3 red cards in 4 games and has a total of 17 till now.
#6 Pablo Alfaro- 18 reds
Pablo Alfaro had a very long career in the La Liga with 164 of his appearances coming for Sevilla. He won the UEFA Cup towards the end of his time there, while early on in his career, he was a rarely-used squad player in the Barcelona team which won the La Liga in 92-93. The aggressive midfielder picked up 18 reds during his long career to come in at 6th on this list.
#5 Paolo Montero- 21 reds
One of the most accomplished football players on this list, Paolo Montero captained Uruguay and was a pillar in the back for Juventus in the mid 90s, winning four Serie A titles with them.
Juventus has a great history of central defenders and Montero features prominently in it. Montero was one of the best in his time, forming a great partnership with Ciro Ferrara that sucked the life out of attacks around Europe.
Monetero also had a distinguished career with Uruguay, but picked up 21 red cards, perhaps due to his no-nonsense style which sometimes crossed all limits. He squarely belonged to that group of defenders who would stop his opponent in whatever way possible, fair or unfair.
#4 Alexis Ruano Delgado- 22 reds
Alexis Ruano Delgado, a versatile defender who can play both in the centre as well as a fullback, currently plies his trade with Racing Santander. He has been a La Liga journeyman, playing 321 matches over 15 seasons. He has also played abroad, with a disastrous spell at Besiktas ending with accusations of match-fixing. Another serial red-card collector, he has so far got 22.
#3 Cyril Rool- 25 reds
In addition to picking up a whopping 25 red cards during his career, Cyril Rool also got an (un)healthy 187 yellow cards. In fact, if you google Cyril Rool, the first suggestion will be Cyril Rool red cards (Not kidding!).
The (very) tough midfielder played for a number of top French clubs including Marseille and once reached the French Cup final. Of course, Rool didn't always play by the rules in his long career as evidenced by his card count.
#2 Sergio Ramos- 26 reds
From zenith to nadir, Sergio Ramos has seen everything that the beautiful game has to offer. Of course, despite being one of the best defenders in the history of Real Madrid, for whom he has won everything including an astounding four Champions Leagues, Ramos' game is not always considered beautiful.
While assured on the ball and blessed with great passing, distribution and tackling skills, Ramos can be extremely aggressive and has paid the price for it very often. The pillar at Real's backline who has got some crucial goals for the club as well, Ramos can be a great footballer one second and an ugly one the next. He is the biggest name on this list and gets the so-called silver medal with 26 sending-offs.
#1 Gerardo Bedoya- 46 reds
On to the legend of red cards. The clear No.1, the king who seems beyond everyone's reach. The former Colombia international Gerardo Bedoya has been sent of 46 times in his career.
Yes, just 20 times more than Ramos. The defensive midfielder also had one of the most apt nicknames in the history of the game, 'the beast'. Bedoya actually had a pretty decent football career, winning the Copa America with Colombia in 2001, playing in defence. He also had a decent spell in Argentina.
But Bedoya will always live with the ignominy of being the professional footballer with the most red cards in the history of the game. Once, in the Bogota derby, Bedoya was suspended for 15 matches after elbowing and kicking an opponent on the head. That was his 41st. Safe to say, he did not learn his lesson even at that late stage of his career, adding five more to reach the top of this pyramid of shame.