Gareth Barry breaks up a fight between Newcastle teammates Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer in a 2005 Premier League match
Gareth Barry breaks up a fight between Newcastle teammates Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer in 2005

Ranking the players with the most yellow cards in Premier League history

English football is notorious for its strong physical nature. 

As the game has evolved, players can find themselves at risk of being cautioned for a variety of offences.

The Premier League has been home to a long list of players known for their love of a good old-fashioned heavy challenge.

From those hard nuts to the more calculated tactical foul specialists, this is a ranking of the players with the most yellow cards in the league’s history.

The players with the most yellow cards in Premier League history

4. Paul Scholes – 97

Widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s finest ever midfielders, Paul Scholes was a cornerstone of Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering Manchester United in the 1990s and 2000s.

A part of United’s famous class of ’92 academy graduates, Scholes could do just about anything with the ball at his feet. His 718 appearances for the Red Devils rank him third on the club’s all-time list.

Along with an eye for a pass and a goal threat that saw him clock 107 goals and 55 assists in the Premier League, Scholes was also required to break up the play in the middle of the park.

His 97 yellow cards in 499 appearances (an average of one every five games) are the fifth highest of any player in the league’s history. The 11-time champion also received four red cards.

=3. Kevin Davies – 99

Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers side of the 2000s is one very fondly remembered in Premier League folklore.

From Ivan Campo to Jay Jay Okocha, the Trotters boasted some superstar names. But that side based their game on grit; Kevin Nolan and Kevin Davies are both in the league’s top 10 for yellow cards.

Davies, a striker, was well-known for his fouls from the front. He can also say he was the man to snatch a draw for Bolton away against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in 2007.

In 444 appearances in the top division, Davies recorded an astonishing 605 fouls, yet was sent off just twice.

=3. Lee Bowyer – 99

Continuing with the theme of Premier League hard-man heritage, in joint third place is a man who once had a fight with his own teammate on the pitch.

Towards the end of an iconic era for Newcastle United, Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer engaged in an on-field tussle against Aston Villa in 2005.

Bowyer was no stranger to the physical side of the game. Formerly of Leeds, West Ham and Birmingham, the midfielder was also sent off four times in almost 400 top flight appearances.

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2. Wayne Rooney – 102

One of the faces of the Premier League and one of English football’s all-time greats. Wayne Rooney obliterated goal-scoring records for club and country in a glittering 16-year top-flight career.

Manchester United’s record goal-scorer also has the most yellow cards of any attacker in the league’s history.

A five-time league winner and the 2009/10 PFA Player of the Year, Rooney racked up 208 goals and 103 assists during his spell in English football’s premier division.

While gaining notoriety for being quite the hothead at times, the current Birmingham City boss committed 368 fouls in the league. He was sent for an early bath on three occasions.

1. Gareth Barry – 123

Only one player in the history of the Premier League has been shown a yellow card on more occasions than Rooney and that is the man with the record for most appearances in the league: Gareth Barry.

A stalwart of English football, Barry will go down as one of the league’s most underrated midfielders after fruitful spells with Aston Villa, Manchester City and Everton.

With 652 appearances and a league title to his name, the 53-time England international registered 53 goals and 64 assists in the Premier League.

Like every defensive midfielder, Barry made his fair share of fouls. 123 of his 633 were penalised by the referee’s top pocket. He was shown red for six of those.

No player in the league’s history has seen yellow more times.

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