- Cap (sport)
In sports, a cap is a metaphorical term for a player's appearance on a select team, such as a national team. The term dates from the practice in the United Kingdom of awarding a cap (an item of headgear) to every player in an international match of association football. In the early days of football, the concept of each team wearing a set of matching shirts had not been universally adopted, so each side would distinguish itself from the other by wearing a specific sort of cap.
An early illustration of the first international football match between England and Scotland in 1872 shows the Scottish players wearing cowls, and the English wearing a variety of school caps. The practice was first approved on May 10th, 1886 for association football after a proposal made by N. Lane Jackson, founder of the Corinthians:
That all players taking part for England in future international matches be presented with a white silk cap with red rose embroidered on the front. These to be termed International Caps.
The act of awarding a cap is now international and is applied to other sports. Actual caps are not always given anymore, but the term "cap" for an international or other appearance has been retained. Thus, a cap is awarded for each game played and so a player who has played x games, for the team, is said to have been capped x times or have won x caps.
The world record holder for the highest number of international caps as of January 24th, 2006 is American football player Kristine Lilly, who has over 300 caps in women's association football. In men's association football, the record is shared by Mohamed Al-Deayea of Saudi Arabia and Claudio Suárez of Mexico, both of whom retired from international football in 2006 with 178 caps each. The first footballer to win 100 international caps was Billy Wright of England's Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wright went on to appear 105 times for England, 90 of them he obtained whilst he was a captain.
Some current leading holders of association football caps (Men as of 5 August 2011, Women as of 7 January 2011) are:
- 178 – Mohamed Al-Deayea, Saudi Arabia
- 178 – Claudio Suárez, Mexico
- 176 – Ahmed Hassan, Egypt
- 169 – Hossam Hassan, Egypt
- 167 – Iván Hurtado, Ecuador
- 167 – Vitālijs Astafjevs, Latvia
- 164 – Cobi Jones, United States
- 164 – Adnan Al-Talyani, United Arab Emirates
- 158 – Sami Al-Jaber, Saudi Arabia
- 157 – Martin Reim, Estonia
Bold- denotes players currently active in international football.
- 352 – Kristine Lilly, United States World record holder
- 275 – Mia Hamm, United States
- 272 – Julie Foudy, United States
- 239 – Joy Fawcett, United States
- 239 – Christie Rampone, United States
- 208 – Birgit Prinz, Germany
- 204 – Tiffeny Milbrett, United States
- 201 – Kate Markgraf, United States
- 201 – Pu Wei, China
- 200 – Li Jie, China
- 192 – Brandi Chastain, United States
- 192 – Fan Yunjie, China
Bold- denotes players currently active in international football.
In cricket, there are two types of caps. Firstly, there is the international type, as described above. Some countries also award a domestic type generally known as a "county cap". The latter system is most commonly applied in English county cricket. Most counties do not automatically award caps to players on their first appearance; instead, they have to be "earned" through good performances. Indeed, one can play at the highest domestic level for several years, and have a quite significant career in first-class cricket, without ever winning a cap.
The world record for the number of caps in Test cricket is held by Sachin Tendulkar of India who has, over the course of a 22 year career collected 181 as of August 2011. Tendulkar also holds the record for One Day International caps, with 453, the most recent being in April 2011.
In rugby union, 20 players have reached 100 international caps as of 9th of October, 2011. Players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are eligible for selection to the British and Irish Lions touring squad. Lions matches are classed as full international tests, and caps are awarded. The Pacific Islanders team, composed of players from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Niue and Cook Islands have a similar arrangement, although no players involved have so far reached 100 caps (Fijian Nicky Little is closest with 65 caps).
Players still active at Test level are in bold type.
- George Gregan, Australia — 139
- Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland — 122 (116 for Ireland, 6 for the British and Irish Lions)
- Jason Leonard, England — 119 (114 for England, 5 for the British and Irish Lions)
- Fabien Pelous, France — 118
- Ronan O'Gara, Ireland — 115 (113 for Ireland, 2 for the British and Irish Lions)
- Philippe Sella, France — 111
- George Smith, Australia — 110
- Stephen Jones, Wales – 109 (103 for Wales, 6 for the British and Irish Lions)
- John Hayes, Ireland — 107 (105 for Ireland, 2 for the British and Irish Lions)
- Chris Paterson, Scotland — 107
- Victor Matfield, South Africa – 105
- Richie McCaw, New Zealand — 104
- Gareth Thomas, Wales — 103 (100 for Wales, 3 for the British and Irish Lions)
- Martyn Williams, Wales — 103 (99 for Wales, 4 for the British and Irish Lions)
- John Smit, South Africa — 103
- Stephen Larkham, Australia — 102
- Percy Montgomery, South Africa — 102
- David Campese, Australia — 101
- Alessandro Troncon, Italy — 101
- Mils Muliaina, New Zealand — 100
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