Playing football at the top flight is a dream for millions of football lovers across the globe. It can’t get bigger and better than playing the game you love on the big stage. If that happens at the football club you love, that is the stuff made of dreams. Not all get to lace the boots at that level, as only a few get to live their dream and play professionally. Today we discuss the players who not only lived their dream but lived it over and over, so many times that they went on to create the record. Here we present the players who played the most games in the top 5 football leagues (each) in the world.
Serie A – Gianluigi Buffon (657)
Gianluigi Buffon is one of the few players in football history to record over 1100 professional career appearances. 657 of those 1100+ appearances came in Serie A for Buffon. The Italian made his Serie Debut for his youth club Parma in 1995 at the age of 17 years, 295 days. In all his matches in the league, Buffon conceded 532 goals and had 299 clean sheets (most by a player in a league). He played 131 matches for Parma in the league, and then made a switch to the Old Lady in 2001. The legendary goalkeeper made 509 appearances for Juventus in the league before leaving the club in 2018. He subsequently rejoined the club in 2019 and played 17 more games. He lifted Scudetto on 10 different occasions as a Juventus player. Currently, Gigi is playing for his youth Club Parma in Serie B.
Premier League – Gareth Barry (653)
Gareth Barry, the English midfielder, has made the most appearances in the Premier League. Barry scored 53 goals and had 51 assists during his time in the league. He mostly played as a defensive mid or central midfielder. He played 365 games for Aston Villa and scored 41 goals for them. The midfielder joined Manchester City in 2009 and made 132 appearances. He won the title with City. After that, he went to Everton in 2013 where he was part of 131 more games in the league. Barry played three seasons for West Bromich Albion. After a season in the Premier League and two seasons in the Championship for the Albion, he called time on his career. He retired from football at the age of 39 on 27 August 2020, after more than 22 years in the league.
La Liga – Andoni Zubizarreta (622)
Andoni Zubizarreta was once considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and no wonder the Spanish keeper played as many as 622 games in La Liga. Zubizarreta played in the La Liga representing three Spanish Giants: Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona, and Valencia. He made his La Liga debut in 1981 for Bilbao and played 162 games for the club. Then, he joined Barcelona in 1986 and played 8 seasons and 301 games there. He won six La Liga titles, two with Athletic and four with Barcelona. He joined Valencia in 1994 and played for more seasons in La Liga. In those 622 games, he conceded 625 goals and had 235 clean sheets. He retired from the game in 1998 after playing nearly 1000 competitive games.
Ligue 1 – Mickaël Landreau (618)
Mickaël Vincent André-Marie Landreau is another goalkeeper that makes this list. The French Goalkeeper made the record 618 Ligue 1 appearances while playing for Nantes, Paris Saint-Germain, Lille, and Bastia between 1996 and 2014. He won a league title with Nantes in 2001 and Lille in 2011. In 10 years at FC Nantes, he played 335 games in the league. Landreau joined PSG in 2006 and made 114 appearances for the club. Lille signed him in 2009, and he played 119 games there. He finished his career at Bastia after playing 50 more games. He conceded 640 goals and registered 227 clean sheets in his Ligue 1 career.
Bundesliga – Charly Körbel (602)
Karl-Heinz “Charly” Körbel, the former German defender, rounds off this elite list. Mostly, He operated as the center-back. Charly played all his 602 games for Eintracht Frankfurt in Bundesliga, a superb feat in itself. On top of that, Körbel never received a single red card in any of his 713 career outings in all competitions, including those 602 in Bundesliga. Charly joined the club when he was 17 and stayed in the club till he was 36, retiring at the club. In his career of almost two decades in the league, he had 45 goals and an assist.
Serie A: Paolo Maldini (647), Francesco Totti (619), Javier Zanetti (615)
Premier League: Ryan Giggs (632), Frank Lampard (609)
Ligue 1: Jean-Luc Ettori (602)