There is a fine art to picking up a yellow card.
You can earn a yellow too early in a match and put your team at risk of going a man down. You can earn a ‘tactical’ booking by bring down a fleet-footed striker who looks set to spring a counter-attack. Or you can always rip your shirt off after scoring a last minute winner.
The point is, yellow cards are part and parcel of the game and, as history has proven, there are some players who are all too familiar with the referee’s notebook.
Here’s a comprehensive list of the 20 players with the most yellow cards in Premier League history.
20. Cesc Fabregas (71)
Cesc Fabregas brought his Chelsea career to an end as he made the switch over to Ligue 1 strugglers Monaco in 2019.
The Premier League certainly lost one of its most talented midfielders, but the fleet-footed Spaniard won’t be missed by the league’s officials, having picked up 71 yellow cards during his spells with Arsenal and Chelsea.
19. Richard Dunne (74)
Richard Dunne infamously holds the record for the most own-goals in Premier League history, as well as the joint most red cards.
The Irish defender featured for Everton, Manchester City and Aston Villa, earning himself a hefty 74 yellow cards along the way, before hanging up his boots with Queens Park Rangers in 2015.
18. Paul Ince (74)
‘The Guv’nor’ was once one of the most talented midfielders in world football and is one of the very few players to be fondly remembered by both Manchester United and Liverpool supporters.
However, he was no stranger to a booking and picked up 74 in just 306 Premier League appearances.
17. Gavin McCann (75)
A one-cap wonder for England, Gavin McCann forged a decent career for himself in the top flight, featuring for Everton, Sunderland, Aston Villa and finally Bolton.
McCann only made 301 top flight appearances, meaning he averaged a yellow card for every four games he played, which is a rather prolific record.
16. Phil Bardsley (75)
Phil Bardsley broke in to the top 20 after picking up his 71st booking against Leicester, surpassing Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher a few years back and he’s consistently climbed up the rankings ever since.
Bardsley has been a menace for referees up and down the country throughout his career, where he as featured for Manchester United, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Stoke and finally Burnley .
15. Patrick Vieira (76)
It’s no surprise to learn that Patrick Vieira earned himself a vast number of yellow cards after exhibiting an aggressive and combative style at Arsenal and, for a brief period, Manchester City.
Vieira was undeniably brilliant for the Gunners, but he was never far away from trouble. As well as his 76 yellows, he also earned himself eight red cards, which is the joint highest tally alongside Richard Dunne and Duncan Ferguson.
14. Nicky Butt (77)
Nicky Butt is often the forgotten member of Manchester United’s famous ‘class of ’92’, but he remains one of the most successful graduates of the Red Devils’ academy setup.
During his time with United and Newcastle, as well as a brief loan spell with Birmingham City, Butt managed to earn himself 77 bookings.
13. Joey Barton (78)
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Joey Barton’s career was always undermined by a poor disciplinary record that saw him fall out of favour with almost every club he represented.
Barton earned 78 bookings in a 15 year career which came to an end in 2017. Barton is currently managing Fleetwood Town in League One.
12. Mark Noble (80)
Mark Noble has enjoyed another consistent season with West Ham and added to his tally of yellow cards – maintaining his record of being the current Premier League player with the most to his name.
The West Ham veteran is now 32, but still looks to have a few more good years left in him.
11. Phil Neville (82)
Phil was arguably the less talented of the Neville brothers, but he enjoyed a more extensive career, having made 505 Premier League appearances compared to his brother’s 400.
That probably explains why Phil’s disciplinary record was much worse than his older brother. Phil earned 82 yellows, compared to Gary’s 53. Interestingly, despite making more appearances for Manchester United, he picked up more yellow cards for Everton.
10. Kevin Nolan (85)
An apologetically robust midfielder, Kevin Nolan forged a decent Premier League career for himself with Bolton, Newcastle and West Ham, before winding down his career as a player manager for Leyton Orient and Notts County.
He earned 85 yellows in 401 Premier League appearances, whilst also holding the record for the most Premier League appearances without a single England cap to his name.
9. George Boateng (85)
George Boateng joined Coventry in 1998 and went on to spend 12 years in the top flight, going on to feature for Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Hull City.
The Dutchman had a reputation as a no-nonsense defensive midfielder and his record of 85 bookings is the highest of any player outside of the British Isles.
8. Lee Cattermole (88)
Lee Cattermole could have easily topped this list if Sunderland weren’t relegated from the Premier League back in 2017.
He earned 88 yellows during his time in the top flight with Middlesbrough, Wigan and then the Black Cats.
7. Robbie Savage (89)
Robbie Savage wasn’t a particularly talented midfielder, but he was certainly tenacious and unafraid to stick a boot in when required, featuring for Leicester, Birmingham, Blackburn and Derby.
89 yellow cards comes as no surprise when you consider his ‘bad boy’ reputation, but what is more surprising is that he only earned one red card in his whole career.
6. Scott Parker (92)
Scott Parker was widely regarded as one of the most talented midfielders of the 21st century, but that talent came with an edge.
During his time with Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham, Tottenham and Fulham, Parker was in the referee’s notebook 92 times, which comes as a slight surprise when you consider how mild-mannered he was off the pitch.
5. Paul Scholes (97)
Paul Scholes needs no introduction as he is one of the most recognisable names in the history of the Premier League.
The Manchester United legend made 499 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils and, whilst he dazzled supporters with his exquisite range of passing and elusive movement, he also frustrated plenty of officials during his 17-year career, earning 97 yellow cards
4. Kevin Davies (99)
When you’re a striker who is more commonly know for getting booked rather than scoring goals, you know something may have gone wrong.
Kevin Davies was a defender’s worst nightmare during his time with Bolton and, in addition to the 99 booking he earned, he also committed 602 fouls which is the second highest tally in Premier League history.
3. Lee Bowyer (99)
Lee Bowyer stuck around in the Premier League for the vast majority of his career, acting as a versatile midfielder with a reputation for putting in some feisty challenges.
He averaged roughly one yellow card for every four appearances, which is good going considering the fact that he made just shy of 400 league appearances for Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham and West Ham.
2. Wayne Rooney (102)
Wayne Rooney will go down as one of the greatest English forwards of all time, but he was by no means a saint during the early stages of his career – as proven by his tally of 102 yellows.
‘Wazza’ had a tendency to let his emotions get the better of him and, although he calmed down significantly as his Premier League career began to wind down, he always had a competitive edge to his play.
1. Gareth Barry (123)
It’s somewhat fitting that the man with the most Premier League appearances should also top the list with the most yellow cards.
Gareth Barry earned 123 during his time with Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton and West Brom and he could still have the chance to add to both his appearance and yellow card record if he can inspire the Baggies to promotion from the Championship this season.