Top world football records that might never be broken
Every now and then, the impossible is almost outrageously achieved in football. Whether it is an astonishing achievement such as Lionel Messi’s incoming eighth Ballon d’Or, or Chelsea conceding just 15 goals in an entire Premier League campaign.
As the saying goes on, records are meant to be broken but there are some records that are unlikely to be broken and would require some heroic efforts to break.
Football has a unique ability to shock, amaze, and amuse in equal measure, but these records are so astonishing and shocking, they might never ever be broken.
Most red cards in a match
When we think of red cards, images of Roy Keane shattering Alfe-Ing Haaland’s knee and Sergio Ramos flying through opposing players comes to mind.
However, in the deepest darkest, and most passionate footballing depths off Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina, a battle of the ages took place between Victoriano Arenas and Claypole in 2011.
An astounding 36 red cards were handed out after an all-out brawl took place. All 22 players on the pitch and 14 substitutes were given their marching orders – no match has ever come close to the number of red cards shown in this tumultuous affair.
Most goals scored by a goalkeeper – Rogerio Ceni
The goalkeeper’s primary job is to save goals not score, but with Brazilian goalkeeper, Rogerio Ceni did both. He recorded a total of 128 career goals in his career. Ceni netted a series of penalties and free-kicks into the back of the net. And in a few seasons, he became one of the leading strikers in his team. This record is very unlikely to be broken.
Most World Cup final appearances – Cafu
Twenty-one different players have won more than one World Cup, from Bellimi to Zozimo – two of the 16 Brazilians to do so, alongside Italy quartet Giovanni Ferrari, Guido Masetti, Giuseppe Meazza, Eraldo Monzeglio and Argentina legend Daniel Passarella.
Pele stands alone with three trophy wins, with his success in 1958 and 1970 supplemented by Brazilian glory in 1962, when the forward missed the Selecao’s last four games through injury.
He is one of the five players to feature in three World Cup-winning squads, a feat matched by Lothar Matthaus, Pierre Littbarski and Ronaldo. But only Cafu has played in three finals, coming on as a substitute and finishing the 1994 penalty shootout victory over Italy, losing to France in 1998 and lifting the famous trophy again against Germany in 2002.
Most goals scored in a calendar year – Lionel Messi
One of the most admired and famous footballers in the modern era of the game, Lionel Messi, holds this impeccable feat. The seven-time FIFA Ballon d’Or award winner in the 2011-2012 football season scored a total of 91 goals for both club, Barcelona and National team, Argentina. Messi scored 79 goals for club side and 12 goals for his country, which helped him land a spot in the record books. It was one of the best years for Messi in his professional career.
— FootTheBall FC (@FootTheBallFC) March 3, 2023
Most international goals – Cristiano Ronaldo
There are no prizes for guessing who the holder of this gong is – Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar broke Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals in 149 appearances for the Iranian national team, when he scored a brace in Portugal’s 2-1 victory against Ireland.
Ronaldo has since added to his international tally, accumulating a truly legendary 116 goals in 184 appearances for Portugal.
Youngest scorer in a final – Pele
Take your pick of Pele records, really. The youngest scorer (17 years, 239 days), youngest hat-trick scorer (17 years, 244 days) and top overall assist provider (10) is also one of four players to score three goals in finals, one of a slightly different quartet to score in more than one final, and is officially recognised as the only player to win the World Cup on three different occasions.
Pele played every minute in Brazil’s 1970 success, scoring four goals and assisting six, while he only played the first two matches of Chile ’62 due to injury. But it was four years before in Sweden when a teenaged sensation established his legacy with a goal against Wales in the quarters, a hat-trick to beat France in the semis and two goals to sink the hosts in the final.
Longest goal ever scored – Asmir Begovic
Some teams conjure a second wind when they need it most, but then Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic managed to find a wonderful gust in 2013.
The former Chelsea and current Everton shot-stopper’s routine clearance was propelled further forward by the wind so spectacularly, it bounced over Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc and into the back of the net.
Begovic almost looked embarrassed when he was mobbed by his teammates, but the Bosnian ace’s incredible strike from 100.5 yards went down in football and world record history.
Most appearances in Premier League – Gareth Barry
The Premier League has been a really difficult environment for players to survive in the long-term, because of the matches being held continuously. It’s not an easy job to be injury-free always but there are certain players who adapted to the conditions perfectly and managed to play in it regularly throughout their career.
While some players struggle to make 100 Premier League appearances, Reliable Gareth Barry showed incredible longevity by breaking the record of most Premier League appearances by a player. He’s currently holding that record, having made 652 appearances in the league for numerous teams.
Most goals in one World Cup – Just Fontaine
Only Miroslav Klose (16 goals in four tournaments), Ronaldo (15 goals in three tournaments) and Gerd Muller (13 goals in two tournaments) have ever scored more World Cup goals than Just Fontaine managed at his only finals in 1958.
Three, two and one against Paraguay, Yugoslavia and Scotland respectively in the groups, became two in a quarter-final win over Northern Ireland and one in semi-final defeat to Brazil, before four were plundered in a third-place play-off against West Germany.
Kylian Mbappe might come close, if he continues his World Cup form over the next 12 years.
Most number of World Cups – Pele
This record is held by none other than a legend, Pele. The one who burst onto the world football scene at age 16, excelling both for club team Santos and the Brazilian national side. Winning the FIFA World Cup is the absolute pinnacle in the career of any football player. And By the end of his career, Pelé had won three FIFA World Cups with Brazil, the most wins of the World Cup by any player.