Top 10 highest World Cup appearances – countries and players

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. The 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 most appearances. The Selecao have appeared in all 21 editions of the FIFA World Cup and will play in 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.

Miroslav Klose, another German, is second on the list with 24 appearances. Klose played in four World Cups from 2002-2014. He was part of the German team that won their fourth world title in 2014. The former Lazio man is also the World Cup all-time top scorer with 16 goals.

Italy’s Paolo 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 1994 final. Maldini had also retired from international duty when the 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.

Countries with the highest World Cup appearances

Players with the highest World Cup appearances

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