A month or so after becoming the oldest player to feature at a World Cup, legendarily venerated Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary has announced his retirement from international football.
At the grand old age of 45 years and 161 days, El-Hadary surpassed the record held by Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon to become the most senior player in World Cup history when he was selected in goal for the Pharoah’s final group game against Saudi Arabia (during which he saved a penalty).
Shortly thereafter, it was announced that El-Hadary had signed a one-year deal to return to Ismaily SC (his third stint at the Egyptian club) and so, in order to concentrate fully on his club career, the elder statesman has decided to bow out at international level having played 159 times for his country.
In a statement released on Tuesday morning, El-Hadary broke the news:
After 22 years, four months and 12 days, I saw it as the best moment to hang up my gloves.
I am very proud to have played with the national team, participating in unprecedented achievements.
Indeed, World Cup squad mate Ramadan Sobhi wasn’t even born when El-Hadary made his senior debut for Egypt in 1996.
What a trooper. Here’s wishing the old salt all the best in the new season.