Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary announced his retirement from international football. At 45 years and 161 days, El-Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history when he captained Egypt against Saudi Arabia at the 2018 World Cup. He bettered the previous record held by Colombian goalie Faryd Mondragon by a good two years. Unlike Mondragon and Roger Milla who were the previous holders of this record, El-Hadary played the entirety of the history-making match. In that match, El-Hadary saved a first-half penalty and made some notable saves. However, Egypt lost the match 1-2.
The 45-year old said, “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 in 159 internationals, participating in unprecedented achievements.”
Essam El-Hadary drew the curtains on his 22-year long international career as Egypt’s third most capped footballer with 159 appearances. He is also the 12th most capped footballer of all time. El-Hadary made his international debut in 1996 against South Korea. Since then, he went on to play for Egypt in 10 international competitions that included a World Cup (2018), two Confederations Cups (1999 and 2009) and seven African Cup of Nations which is the joint second most in the history of the competition.
El-Hadary won four African Cup of Nations with the national team in 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010. He was an unused player in 1998. However, El-Hadary was the best goalkeeper of the tournament three successive times in 2006, 2008 and 2010. In all three tournaments, El-Hadary was either in his mid or late 30s.