What Is The Meaning Of A Cap In Soccer?

The game of soccer has similar terms used to describe certain actions and situations in soccer as in everyday life. Although these terms may have similar spellings and pronunciations when compared, they do not always mean the same thing. Cap is a type of hat, but in the case of soccer, it is rather a determiner.  

What is a cap in soccer? How is a cap gotten in soccer? Who has the most caps in men’s soccer and women’s soccer? How do players get a cap? This article will give you information about all you need to know about caps in the round leather game of soccer.

The term, “Cap” in soccer is used often to tell the number of matches a player played for their international team. For example, in his playing career, Christian Ronaldo has more than 100 caps meaning that he has played over one hundred matches for his country, Portugal.

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What Is A Cap In Soccer?

A cap is a word used to describe the number of competitive matches that a player has played at the international level for his country.

For every international match a player plays, a statistical cap is earned. If the player continues to play more international matches, the cap increases in count. 15 international matches played by a player are automatically 15 caps. If the player plays more international matches, the number of caps increases. 

How Do Players Get A Cap In Soccer?

For a soccer player to get a cap, there is a particular order that has to be followed. The first procedure is to get selected to play for their international side; secondly, to make an appearance for the team on the field of action. 


An important factor that determines if a player gets a cap is when the player plays in a match, either as a substitute or as a starter. The player does not get a cap merely by attending the game or being on the team’s squad list.

In other words, a benched player who doesn’t get to participate with other players on the field during the match will not get a cap. 

There are different competitions a player can participate in that can earn them a cap. Competitions like the World Cup, international friendly matches, Olympic and Olympic qualifying matches, qualifying games for the World Cup competition, and also Continental competitions and qualifying competitions in the Euro. 


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This means that a player can participate in club matches as many as 300 times and never appear in their national side and would never be considered to have gotten a cap. As long as the player has not played a game for his senior national team, he doesn’t have a cap.

Even more, a player may participate in 15 matches for the club side and 25 matches on their national side, in all, such a player will only earn 25 caps.


Do Soccer Players Get Actual Caps?

Although there were reports that teams gave their players caps in the past, it isn’t a popular practice in recent years.

International players who have reached 50 and 100 appearances or more in their national career are said to have made a major achievement and are occasionally awarded a decorated cap as proof or a mark of their contribution in a number of games played at the international level. However, in today’s soccer, national sides rarely award actual caps to players.

In the case of giving caps to players, the decision is determined by the national soccer association of individual nations whether by games played or not, as there are no stipulated rules regarding handing out actual caps to soccer players.


For a player who is making their first appearance in an international match, it is customary to award them the commemorative cap. This was the norm in English football back in the day.

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Who Has The Most Caps In Men’s Soccer?

In the men’s category for the most held cap in soccer, the record belongs to Soh Chin Ann of Malaysia based on appearances for a national team at the international level based on recognition by football’s world governing body FIFA.


Based on FIFA recognition, the Malaysian played 195 games for his senior national team and has 195 caps. Soh Chin Ann played the role of a center-back in his time between 1969 and 1984. 

Who Has The Most Caps In Women’s Soccer?

Kristina Lilly, in the women’s category, has the most caps. Between 1987 and 2010 when she retired, she played for the United States. Her time playing at the International level lasted 23 years, during which she earned a total of 354 caps; a record that is yet to be broken.

Does A Friendly Count As A Cap?

A player who appears in a friendly soccer match will not get a cap. Players are permitted to participate in friendly matches and competitive matches whether by invitation or choice, although they are not conditioned to earn caps. 


This is because the player can play for one country in a friendly game and opt to represent another country in a competitive game. This is due to the fact the player is not cap-tied for playing in a friendly.

Being cap-tied means that they can not represent another country if they have already represented one in a competitive game. This is common among players with dual nationalities.


As stated in this article, a cap is used to describe a player’s participation in a national team in competitive soccer games. The number of games the player has played for a country at the international level will equal the number of caps he/she has garnered in their professional career.


This is the best explanation for the concept of caps in soccer as players do not get actual physical caps and this is no more the norm in recent times.