• Which player has been sent off the most times in Champions League history?

  • Three players are tied with four Champions League red cards

  • Juventus players have received 28 Champions League red cards – more than any other club

Red cards in football are always a dramatic event. That intensifies ten-fold when it occurs in the Champions League.

The biggest and most prestigious club tournament is designed to showcase the very best talent around but even at this elite level players can sometimes lose their heads and lash out.

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They see the trailing ankle of an opponent who is clean through on goal and, in a moment of madness, listen to their inner demon. 

When it comes to ill-discipline there is really only a sliver of difference between Real Madrid v Bayern Munich and the Red Lion versus the Dog and Duck, played out on a quagmire of a pitch.

A safe football prediction therefore is that more Champions League dismissals await us between now and the end of this season. 

Should that fate befall Bayern it will put the German giants just one sending off behind the competition’s worst miscreants, that being Juventus.

Since the Champions League was formed in 1992/92, the Old Lady has seen red on 28 occasions which equates to 0.9 per season. It’s perhaps little wonder then that Juve have only lifted the famous jug-eared trophy the once.

As for players, it will come as precisely no surprise to learn that Sergio Ramos tops the tournament’s hall of shame, level-pegging with two other behemoths of world football.

The ruthless defender was presumably booked for being born.

So let’s get to it, as we highlight – without judgement – the teams and players who have most often seen the red mist, followed by a red card, in the Champions League. 

Players With Most Champions League Red Cards

Three players have been sent for an early bath on four occasions in the competition, one of whom has already been identified. 

Across two illustrious decades Sergio Ramos was considered by many to be the best centre-back and leader of his generation. A pivotal presence for Real Madrid, he led Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League triumphs and five La Liga titles. 

Yet along with the silverware there was always a distinct edge to Ramos’ style of defending, and that’s putting it mildly, making the non-nonsense stopper a favourite in the betting markets to not last the full duration of a game. A career total of 28 red cards justified that bet many times over.

Edgar Davids is another to see red four times in the competition. Nicknamed ‘The Pitbull’ the midfielder’s combative approach meant it was inevitable some challenges would awry, depriving Juventus several times of their outstanding star on the biggest of all stages.

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And last but by no means least, there is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a player who did everything by extremes. No doubt our Champions League betting offers back in the Swede’s prime focused on the extravagantly gifted forward either scoring a worldie or getting sent off. 

Run-of-the-mill was not a term Zlatan recognized. 

Just bubbling beneath this trio are 13 players who have been dismissed three times and from this group there are only two who are still playing their trade at the highest level presently.

There is still time for Atletico Madrid’s Stefan Savic and Dortmund’s Emre Can to join a very select shortlist alongside three of the greatest ever exponents of European football

Sergio Ramos Red Cards

It is not exactly a huge shock to see Ramos feature on this Champions League red cards list. Showcasing his long-standing dedication to the dark arts, these dismissals all took place over 15 seasons.

  • 28th September 2005: Olympiacos 1-2 Real Madrid

  • 23rd November 2010: Ajax 0-4 Real Madrid

  • 27th November 2013: Real Madrid 4-1 Galatasaray

  • 26th February 2020: Real Madrid 1-2 Manchester City

Edgar Davids Red Cards

Dominating midfield battles for the likes of Ajax, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus it is notable that all of Davids’ red cards were made up of two yellows.

Each time the Pitbull bit, then bit again. 

  • 24th October 2000: Juventus 1-3 Hamburger SV

  • 18th September 2001: Juventus 3-2 Celtic

  • 27th February 2002: Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 Juventus

  • 22nd April 2003: Barcelona 1-2 Juventus

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Red Cards

It is odd to acknowledge that one of the finest players to grace the modern game hung up his boots in 2023 having never won a Champions League honour.

He still managed to leave his mark on the tournament however, as well as Oscar’s calf at Stamford Bridge in 2015. The Swedish legend’s late challenge left the Chelsea midfielder writhing in agony. 

  • 2nd November 2005: Juventus 2-1 Bayern Munich

  • 27th September 2006: Inter 0-2 Bayern Munich

  • 12th February 2013: Valencia 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain

  • 11th March 2015: Chelsea 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain

Which Teams Have Received The Most Red Cards In Champions League?

With the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich competing in Europe’s elite club tournament almost every year, it’s almost inevitable to see these teams appear on this list.

What excuse then for Arsenal, who are only a few reds shy despite not participating on 12 occasions. 

Another English giant, Manchester United, is prominent too and it surprises that only one of their 19 is attributed to Roy Keane

But it’s Juventus who lead the way, the most ill-disciplined team in Champions League history with a record 28 red cards. Far too often a combination of a brutish back-line and an industrial midfield has resulted in their trademark catenaccio going wrong. 

Here, you can see the Champions League clubs who have had the most sending offs in the competition’s history.

  • Olympiacos - 18

  • Galatasaray - 18

  • PSV – 18

  • Atletico Madrid – 18

  • Dinamo Zagreb – 18

  • Dynamo Kyiv – 18

  • Manchester United - 19

  • Benfica - 20

  • Arsenal – 20

  • Inter – 23

  • Real Madrid - 24

  • Porto – 26

  • Bayern Munich - 26

  • Juventus – 28

*Credit for the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.