Who Has The Most Red Cards in Premier League History?

An introduction

There are many milestones that a professional player can achieve during their career, regardless of the sport. But being known as having the most red cards in the Premer League history is definitely a somewhat unique feat.

There are probably several names that come to mind here, but to give a short answer right away, there is not one, but three players who hold the title of being the ones with the most red cards in the top tier of English football. They are Duncan Ferguson, Richard Dunne, and Patrick Vieira. 

Some notable names here, even though these players didn’t pay during the Premier League era, would be Dennis Wise, Mark Dennis, Vinnie Jones, Steve Walsh, and Roy McDonough. 

English football can be quite physical at times. That was the case especially during the 90s and 2000s when the game more resembled the traditional style of English football, something that has changed a bit over the past decade and a half. 

Duncan Ferguson

The Everton legend who spent the majority of his career with the toffees has managed to accumulate eight red cards during his career even though he played as a striker.

The Scotsman was known for his harsh attitude toward both the opposition and the match officials. That’s one of the reasons why it’s not so strange that a typical English number nine has managed to gather a record number of red cards in the Premier League era.

duncan ferguson arguing with the referee

Richard Dunne

Another player who began his professional career as an Everton player although he will always be remembered as a Manchester City legend. The club where he spent nine years of his professional career and played a little bit under 300 league games for the Citizens. The Irishman played the role of a centre back which meant that he was the last line of defense. Dunne spent his entire career tackling the opposition and the reason why he managed to accumulate such a large number of red cards is quite simple.

Patrick Vieira

If you’re a casual football fan, you’re probably not really familiar with the two aforementioned players, but there’s a huge possibility that you’ve heard about this one. Patrick Vieira is an Arsenal legend, and probably one of the best midfielders who have ever played the game. The Frenchman had many defensive roles throughout his career, and his somewhat aggressive style of play helped him earn the title of being one of the three players with the most red cards in Premier League history. 

Lee Cattermole

Another name worth noting here is Lee Cattermole. The Sunderland legend has spent almost his entire career in north England. Even though he only managed to accumulate seven red cards, the number of yellow cards he would almost regularly get for his aggressive challenges was quite high. The exact number is 77 yellow cards in the top flight. Cattermole retired at the age of 32, which means that if he played for a couple of seasons more, he would most likely be at the top of this list. If you’re familiar with Cattermole’s style of play and have watched him tackle the opposition in the top tier of English football more than ten years ago, you probably get the idea why such a player is worth mentioning here.

What about the all-time most red cards in the English top-tier list?

Five players that we’ve already mentioned in the introduction are also worth mentioning here. 

Starting with Dennis Wise and his tally of 11 red cards. Wise spent the majority of his career at AFC Wimbledon, a side that was known for its “unique” style of play during the 80s and 90s. The fact that he was sent off during his first game as player-manager at Millwall in 2003 isn’t shocking considering his aggressive approach to the game. 

Wise wasn’t the only one at AFC Wimbledon who was used to getting booked. In fact, he played alongside Vinnie Jones who is one place above him on the list with 12 red cards. Jones was probably the craziest of the “Crazy Gang”. One of the reasons why he became an actor after his football career is his ultra-aggressive demeanor on the pitch. This helped him land many roles in several movies.

Mark Dennis is the next one on the list with 12 red cards – the same number as Vinnie Jones. During his spells at Birmingham, Southampton, QPR, and Crystal Palace, Dennis has earned the nickname “Psycho”.

Two players that are at the top of this list are Steve Walsh and Roy McDonough who both got 13 red cards during their respective careers. Walsh spent almost fifteen years at Leicester City where he played around 400 games for the Foxes. He was banned for 11 matches after smashing the jaw of Shrewsbury striker Dave Geddis in 1986. 

On the other hand, McDonough, another striker on this list, was known for being quite harsh with the referees. He was suspended for six months at the age of 16 after assaulting a referee in a Schools Cup match.


As briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article, English football can be quite physical and aggressive. Even though the “times have changed” and the harshness of the game has eased off a bit, there are still many active players who could break this record and end up at the top of the list of Premier League players with the most red cards.