Thomas Müller moved up to fifth in Germany's all-time appearance list with his 114th cap against England. - © Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Thomas Müller moved up to fifth in Germany's all-time appearance list with his 114th cap against England. - © Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Germany's top 10 most capped players


Thomas Müller has taken outright fifth spot for the most caps in a Germany shirt after making his 114th senior international appearance for Die Mannschaft in their UEFA Nations League clash with England. But who are the four still ahead of him? brings you Germany’s top 10…

1) Lothar Matthäus
International honours:
UEFA Euro 1980 winner, 1990 FIFA World Cup winner

The term ‘legend’ is thrown around a lot in football, but there is no doubt that the title applies to Matthäus. As well as seven Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich and a Scudetto with Inter Milan, he was the first German in a decade to be awarded the Ballon d’Or. That 1990 gong came on the back of captaining Die Mannschaft to World Cup glory in Italy. That was the third of a record five finals tournaments he would feature at, spanning from 1982 to 1998. Of his 150 caps, 25 came at World Cups, which is the record for appearances at the tournament. He also played at four European Championships, winning the first of those (again in Italy) in 1980. In fact, he made his international debut at that tournament. A 20-year career representing his country, which included 23 goals, ended at Euro 2000 against Portugal. He is both the oldest player and goalscorer in Germany’s history.

Watch: Matthäus' Top 3 Goals

2) Miroslav Klose
International honours:
2014 FIFA World Cup winner

Klose’s career was a strange one in that he was far more prolific for his country than his clubs. And the striker didn’t even have to play for Germany, with Poland – the country of his birth – also interested after consistent performances for Kaiserslautern. But his first cap came in March 2001 against Albania, scoring off the bench and celebrating with his customary front flip. He would then be part of the squad that finished second at the 2002 World Cup and scored five (headed) goals to earn the Silver Boot. And scoring at World Cups became his thing, winning the Golden Boot at the home tournament in 2006 with another five, becoming the all-time top scorer with 16 goals and only the third player to do so at four different finals tournaments. His last game was the triumphant 2014 final in Rio de Janeiro, ending on a national record 71 goals – three more than Gerd Müller, although in more than double the amount of games.

Watch: The best of Klose in the Bundesliga

3) Lukas Podolski
Caps: 130
International honours:
2014 FIFA World Cup winner

There are many similarities between Podolski and Klose. Both born in Poland, both more prolific at international level, both long-standing pillars of the national team. Besides winning club trophies in Germany, England, Turkey and Japan, the forward is most famous for his hammer left foot, which he used to good effect one last time in his farewell match against the Three Lions in March 2017. That came 13 years after his debut when he became the first second-division player since 1975 to earn his first Germany cap. After helping boyhood club Cologne gain promotion, he became a regular member of Die Mannschaft and would feature at seven tournaments between Euro 2004 and 2016, also being named the 2006 World Cup’s Best Young Player – beating the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored the fastest goal in Germany history after just nine seconds in a friendly against Ecuador in the build-up to the 2014 World Cup success. His 49 goals also places him third in the all-time scoring chart.

4) Bastian Schweinsteiger
Caps: 121
International honours:
2014 FIFA World Cup winner

‘Schweini’ won pretty much everything he could in his career, with eight Bundesliga titles, a record seven DFB Cups, the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, an FA Cup, and the World Cup. The midfielder made his international debut against Hungary in June 2004 and would feature at that summer’s Euro – his first of seven tournaments. His 41 caps by the age of 22 was a record until Podolski broke it with 44 not long after. He was very much first choice in central midfield as of qualifying for Euro 2012 and brought up his century of caps in October 2013. After Philipp Lahm’s international retirement following the 2014 World Cup win, Schweinsteiger was named the country’s new captain by Joachim Löw. He announced the end of his own international career after Euro 2016 and a national record 18 European Championship appearances. His 121st and final cap was a friendly against Finland. The later Manchester United and Chicago Fire man ended on 24 goals for Germany.

Watch: Schweinsteiger's top 5 Bundesliga goals

5) Thomas Müller
Caps: 115
International honours:
2014 FIFA World Cup winner

A one-club man on the books at Bayern since 2000, the unassuming Müller has gone on to become one of the greats of German football and his country’s most decorated player. His debut came on his home ground at the Allianz Arena against Argentina in January 2010. He then started the first game of that year’s World Cup for just his third cap and scored his maiden goal in the same game. He ended the tournament with the Golden Boot after five goals and three assists, as well as the Best Young Player Award – the third German in a row to win it after Klose and Podolski. He got another five four years later in Brazil, this time earning the Silver Boot and, of course, the World Cup trophy. The self-styled Raumdeuter would later feature at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup before being dropped by Löw, who reversed his decision not to select him after two years ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament. Not yet 33 until September 2022 and again a key player under Hansi Flick, Müller is no doubt targeting the Qatar World Cup and a home Euros in 2024.

Watch: Tireless Thomas Müller

6) Philipp Lahm
Caps: 113
International honours: 2014 FIFA World Cup winner

A Munich native, Lahm had two seasons with the Bayern reserves before a highly successful stint on loan at VfB Stuttgart between 2003 and 2005. He established himself as the team’s first-choice left-back there in a development that proved decisive in his career. Lahm went on to make his Germany debut on 18 February 2004 in a 2-1 win over Croatia and was subsequently rarely out of the team when fit. He also scored the opening goal at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a sensational curler in 4-2 win against Costa Rica, was named captain ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and retired on a high after lifting the World Cup with Germany in Brazil in 2014.

Watch: The best of Lahm in the Bundesliga

7) Manuel Neuer
Caps: 111
International honours: 2014 FIFA World Cup winner

If the 2010 World Cup was a transformative one for Lahm as captain, it was equally significant for Neuer too. Rene Adler was Germany’s No.1 going into the tournament, but after injury forced him to withdraw Neuer stepped up - and he hasn’t relinquished top spot in well over a decade. So impressive was he at the tournament in South Africa that it earned him a move to Bayern from boyhood club Schalke the following season. A serial World Goalkeeper of the Year winner, Neuer’s legacy as one of the all-time greats was cemented when he brought his ‘sweeper-keeper’ style to a global audience at the 2014 World Cup, the last-16 tie against Algeria often hailed as one of his best ever displays. The 36-year-old has been Germany captain since Bastian Schweinsteiger’s retirement in 2016.

Watch: Neuer's world-class saves

8) Jürgen Klinsmann
Caps: 108
International honours: 1990 FIFA World Cup winner, 1996 European Championship winner

Another of Germany’s bonafide legends, Klinsmann made a name for himself at VfB Stuttgart in the early 1980s, eventually making his Germany debut at the age of 23 in a 1-1 draw with Brazil in 1987. Blessed with a knack of knowing how to be in the right place at the right time, Klinsmann was a textbook fox-in-the-box, an elusive striker whose movement and timing always seemed to put him one step ahead of his marker. He was the first player ever to score at three successive European Championships – including winning the 1996 edition – while he also participated at three World Cups. Klinsmann ended up with 47 goals in 108 international appearances, putting him fourth in Germany’s all-time chart.

9) Toni Kroos
Caps: 106
International honours: 2014 FIFA World Cup winner

The epitome of elegance and grace on the ball, Bayern Munich spotted Kroos’ talent early on and signed him from Hansa Rostock at the age of 16. The midfielder truly blossomed as a professional on a two-year loan at Bayer Leverkusen between 2008 and 2010, and earned his first senior cap at international level in March 2020 before being selected for the World Cup later that year. With an unparalleled range of passing, it is no surprise Kroos was involved at three European Championships (2012, 2016, 2020) and three World Cups (2010, 2014, 2018), proving a cornerstone of Joachim Löw’s team for over a decade. The Real Madrid star scored two goals in as many minutes in the 7-1 humbling of Brazil en route to winning the 2014 World Cup, and eventually retired from international duty in June 2021 after amassing 106 caps.

Watch: Toni Kroos: Made in the Bundesliga

10) Jürgen Kohler
Caps: 105
International honours: 1990 FIFA World Cup winner, 1996 European Championship winner

As reliable a centre-back as you could ever wish to see, it is no surprise Kohler’s international career spanned 12 years, three European Championships and two World Cups, taking in club stints at Bayern Munich, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund. He made his senior Germany debut in a 2-0 victory over Denmark in September 1986 and was a mainstay of the side until his retirement in 1998. Part of Germany’s triumphant 1990 World Cup squad, he led Die Mannschaft to Euro 1996 as captain, only to suffer an injury in the first game that ruled him out of the rest of the tournament. Nevertheless, he returned to reach a century of international caps, becoming just the fourth German to reach that milestone after Franz Beckenbauer, Matthäus and Klinsmann.