For footballers, World Cups are the stuff of dreams.
Every player aspires to shine on the sport’s biggest stage, and making a record at a World Cup usually marks a pinnacle in professional careers.
Some records, though, are hardly desirable.
Javier Mascherano, a veritable icon of Argentinian football, holds one such unwanted distinction as the most carded player in World Cup history.
The combative midfielder and defender was cautioned seven times over the course of four World Cups – 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018.
However, he managed to avoid being sent off in any of his 20 World Cup appearances.
He is followed on the list by Zinedine Zidane, Cafu, and Rafael Marquez, three of the biggest names to ever take the field for France, Brazil, and Mexico.
All three were shown six cards in their World Cup careers.
Zidane had four yellow cards and two reds in 12 matches, with his last sending off forever etched in football folklore.
In his last appearance before retirement, the legendary midfielder was shown a straight red for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, a game the French eventually lost on penalties.
Mexican defender Marquez was shown five yellows and sent off once in 19 games, while Brazilian World Cup-winning captain Cafu picked up six yellow cards in 20 appearances.
There are four players who were carded five times at World Cups: Cameroon’s Rigobert Song, Argentine legend Armando Maradona, Germany’s Lothar Matthaeus, and Australian Tim Cahill.
Zidane and Song remain the only two players to have been sent off twice at the World Cup.
The quickest World Cup red card was in Mexico 1986, when Uruguayan defender Jose Batista was sent off after just 56 seconds for a rash tackle on Scotland’s Gordon Strachan.
Given the tournament’s competitive nature, it should be no surprise that the first-ever World Cup red card came in the inaugural 1930 edition.
It was Peru’s captain Mario de las Casas who headed in for an early shower in a group game against Romania.
Among goalkeepers, Italy’s Gianluca Pagliuca was the first to be sent off at the World Cup finals.
He saw red for handling the ball outside the penalty box in the 21st minute of a group clash with Norway at USA 1994.
Source: Anadolu Agency