Meaning And History
In football, a cap is a term used to describe an international appearance by a player for their country in an official match. The word “cap” comes from awarding an actual cap to each player – traditionally a hat with the national emblem on it, although sadly, this tradition has fallen out of favour.
The concept of football caps dates back to the 19th century – when international matches first started.
The first official international football match was played between Scotland and England in 1872, with England winning the match 1-0. The Scottish team wore dark blue caps with white pom poms, which is believed to have inspired the term “cap” to describe an international soccer appearance.
Awarding caps for international game appearances became widespread in the early 20th century. The first international level team to award caps was Wales, who gave caps to their senior national team in a match against Scotland. The practice soon caught on, and most countries began awarding caps to their players for international appearances.
Players Still Get A Cap
In modern football, players still earn a cap for every international game appearance, although the tradition of presenting players with physical caps has fallen out of use in most countries. Instead, players may receive a commemorative medal or trophy to mark their involvement in an international game.
Football caps are typically awarded for appearances in official matches, such as FIFA World Cup qualifiers, regional championships, and friendlies between national teams.
Players who have earned many caps for their country are often regarded as football legends, and fans and the media celebrate their achievements. Retired Egyptian midfielder Ahmed Hassan holds the record for the most number of caps, who made 184 appearances for his national team between 1995 and 2012.
Honorary Football Caps
Players are sometimes awarded honorary caps for their contributions to the sport, even if they did not officially appear for their country.
For example, England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team were each awarded a cap by the English Football Association in 2009, even though some team members did not make an official appearance for England (the national team).
To end, caps are a longstanding tradition in football that celebrate a player’s international appearances for their country. While the practice of awarding a physical cap to a soccer player has fallen out of use, the concept of caps remains an important part of football culture and history.