Spain legend Raul Gonzalez built quite a reputation for himself during his active playing days. The striker started his career with Real Madrid in 1994 and went on to play for the Blancos for two decades.One thing that has been synonymous with Raul’s career is goals. He has scored lots of them wherever he’s been, even becoming Real Madrid’s all-time top-scorer with 232 goals, before his record was eventually broken by the impeccable Cristiano Ronaldo.But for all of Raul’s goals, his disciplinary record is also another part of his game that is very commendable. The former Spain international played almost 900 games without ever receiving a red card. He remains one of the ‘cleanest’ players football has seen.
Remember Michel Platini? Yes, the former UEFA President. Even before the 64-year-old went into football administration, he was an astute professional football who played across France and Italy.Platini truly made his name with Juventus, where he netted an impressive 68 goals in 147 games. The Frenchman is regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time, having won the Ballon d’Or three times.He may currently be banned from all football related activities, following his alleged misdemeanours as UEFA boss, however, Platini had a flawless disciplinary record during his playing career. He played over games for club and country without ever getting a red card. “Football was more violent than today,” Platini once said, as self-praise for his unblemished record.
#8 Aaron Hughes
Although you may not know who Aaron Hughes is, the defender is very much celebrated due to his impeccable disciplinary record. Currently 39, he has lined up for eight clubs, including Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers (QPR).Hughes amassed 455 appearances in the Premier League and also earned more than 100 caps for Northern Ireland, but never got himself sent off. The veteran defender is now plying his trade in Scotland for Hearts of Midlothian and his record still remains intact.
#7 Philip Lahm
Name a nicer guy than Philip Lahm, we’ll wait! The former Germany defender won it all at both club and international level. Before retiring in 2017, Lahm had won eight Bundesliga titles, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA World Cup.In fact, the former Bayern man retired as one of the most decorated right-backs the game has ever seen and his reputation also remains intact, as far as disciplinary issues are concerned.Lahm finished his career without ever being sent off, despite playing more than 400 games for club and country. This is one of the reasons why he is so much respected in and outside Germany. Lahm stood for more than just football and it is this clam-headed attribute that has led him to become a businessman after his football career.
#6 Gary Lineker
Now days, Gary Lineker is seen more as a broadcaster, as he used to host the BBC’s Match of the Day, and currently hosts the coverage of the UEFA Champions League on BT Sport. However, the 58-year-old used to be a celebrated footballer, too.In a very accomplished career, Lineker played for Premier League sides Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City. He also had a very fruitful stint with Spanish giants Barcelona between 1986 and 1989 and was top-scorer at the FIFA World Cup in 1986.One of the reasons why the Englishman actually scored many goals in his career was due to his discipline. Despite coming up against some of the toughest defenders in the world, Lineker always kept his cool, ensuring that he retired without ever being red-carded. Such a nice guy.
#5 Damien Duff
Like many ex-footballers, Damien Duff has opted to become a coach after calling time on his career. The Irishman used to be a speedster and often used his pace to terrorise opposition defenders.Duff was part of Chelsea’s first batch of players when Roman Abramovich took over the club in the early 2000s. He went on to play for Newcastle United and Fulham, before setting off to Australia to line up for Melbourne City.If there’s anything else associated with Duff, other than his speed, it’s definitely his composure and comportment on the pitch. The grey-haired winger was always clean and retired having never received a red card in 632 matches.
#4 Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema continues to divide opinion among football fans over his status among elite strikers. The Frenchman has always banged in lots of goals, but doesn’t seem to get the recognition he deserves.One thing that cannot be taken away from him, though, is his discipline on the field. The 31-year-old was introduced to first-team football at a very young age, but he’s one of very few players who do not usually commit needless fouls, dive or rant at referees.Currently, the gentle Benzema has played over 400 games for Lyon, Real Madrid and France but he has never been sent off. He may not be as upright off the pitch, due to many reasons. But, on the field, Benzema has proven time beyond count that he is not a dirty player.
#3 Ryan Giggs
Just consider playing all through your career in a single league and not getting ever getting a red card. As if that is not difficult enough, just imagine keeping such a clean record in the Premier League, where tackles usually fly in left, right and centre.This is the remarkable record that Ryan Giggs holds. The Manchester United legend played 672 games in the colours of the Red Devils but was never sent off even for once. Currently managing the Wales national team, it is easy to see why his players are so disciplined. During Giggs’ own career, he occasionally received yellow cards but was always the one to ensure that his other teammates stayed focused and never lost their heads. For a player whose career lasted for over two decades, it is easy to see how he managed it – through discipline!
#2 Joao Moutinho
Talk about artists on the pitch and Joao Moutinho’s name will definitely pop up among any top 10 list. The 33-year-old has paid his dues to football at both club and international level and is set to retire as one of the very disciplined players.Moutinho has played across three different countries and is currently with Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers. In more than 400 games that he has played, the Portugal international is yet to receive a red card.Having played in the Euros (he won it with Portugal in 2016), the World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the Portuguese league, French league, and in the English topflight, it makes his unblemished record more special.
#1 Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta has earned the nickname ‘midfield maestro’ due to his impressive displays in the middle of the park. The former Spain international has won every major trophy at club and international level., including the Euros, UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup.He is also a one-time European Footballer of the Year, having scooped the prestigious individual award in 2010. Aside Iniesta’s master performances in midfield, his gentleness and coolness is also another attribute that endears him to many.For a man who has played in the tempestuous Clasico many times, it is astonishing that he has never been red-carded. Currently playing for Vissel Kobe in the Japanese league, Iniesta is still a calm presence in the middle of the park, with an unblemished disciplinary record.
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