Brazil have made more World Cup appearances than any other country, while Lionel Messi could shoot to the top if Argentina make it to the final this year
The FIFA World Cup is every country and player’s dream as it is the biggest sporting event on earth. Aside from that, it is also a thing of pride to represent your country on the biggest stage in world football.
Also, there is always a big camaraderie when the World Cup comes around every four years. Club rivalries are put aside while conversations during that period are dominated and influenced by World Cup matches.
There have been 21 editions of the World Cup, with Qatar 2022 set to be the 22nd edition. The World Cup takes place every summer, but Qatar 2022 will be the first to take place during winter due to Qatar’s intense summer heat.
Brazil are the most successful team in the competition, with five world titles. Selecao are closely followed by Italy and Germany, who both have four titles each. Seventeen countries have hosted the FIFA World Cup, with Qatar set to host the 2022 edition while the USA, Canada and Mexico will host the 2026 competition.
Brazil, Germany and Italy lead the all-time World Cup appearances
Since the first competition took place in 1930, a total of 79 countries have played at the FIFA World Cup, while several players have also made their marks in the tournament.
Unsurprisingly, Brazil lead the way with the most appearances. Selecao has appeared in all 21 editions of the FIFA World Cup and will play on their 22nd later this year
Brazil have also played the joint-highest number of games in World Cup history (109). Germany are next in line with 19 appearances, including 17 consecutive qualifications. The four-time champions surprisingly have played the same number of World Cup games as Brazil despite missing two editions.
The Azzurris of Italy are third on the all-time appearances list with 18, but they missed the 2018 edition and will not be playing in Qatar
Lionel Messi’s Argentina are next with 17 appearances as Mexico surprisingly sit in fifth spot with 16 appearances. Spain, France and England have all qualified for the tournament 15 times, while Belgium and Uruguay both have 13 appearances
Can Messi surpass Matthaus as World Cup all-time appearance holder?
On the players’ list, Germany’s Lothar Matthaus leads the way with 25 appearances. Matthaus appeared in five World Cups- the joint-highest, winning the competition as a captain in 1990
taly’s Paulo Maldini is third on the list with 23 appearances. Maldini appeared at 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
However, he never got to win the big prize as Italy reached the semi-final in 1990 and were on the losing side in the 1994 final. Maldini also retired from international duty when Azzuri won it in 2006
Argentina’s Diego Maradona is next on the list with 21 appearances. Maradona, who is one of the greatest players to play in the competition, played in four World Cup tournaments, leading his side to victory in the 1986 final
Germany’s Uwe Seeler also made 21 appearances between 1958-1970, the same as Władysław Żmuda, who played for Poland between 1974-1986.
Legendary Brazil full-back Cafu made 20 appearances between 1994-2006, winning it twice in 1994 and 2002
Another brilliant full-back Phillip Lahm is next with 20 appearances also. However, unlike Cafu, Lahm’s 20 appearances came in just three editions between 2006-2014. He was the captain of the German team that won it in 2014
Poland’s Grzegorz Lato also made 20 appearances between 1974- 1982. Argentina’s Javier Mascherano has the same number of appearances, representing his country in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. It is also the same for Bastian Schweinsteiger, who played for Germany in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi falls in a group of players with 19 appearances, but the PSG star could move to the top if La Albiceleste go all the way in Qatar later this year
World Cup all-time appearances (Countries)
World Cup all-time appearances (Players)
Lothar Matthaus (Germany) – 25 matches
Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 24 matches
Paolo Maldini (Italy) – 23 matches
Uwe Seeler (Germany) – 21 matches
Diego Maradona (Argentina) – 21 matches
Wladyslaw Zmuda (Poland) – 21 matches
Cafu (Brazil) – 20 matches
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) – 20 matches
Philipp Lahm (Germany) – 20 matches
Grzegorz Lato (Poland) – 20 appearances