Egypt’s goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary is retiring from international football after making history and becoming the oldest player to appear in a World Cup match during the 2018 tournament.
The 45-year-old made the announcement on Facebook late Monday: “After 22 years, four months and 12 days, I saw it as the best moment to hang up my gloves”.
El-Hadary debuted for the Pharoahs during the 1996 World Cup against South Korea, and says he’s “very proud” after playing in 159 international matches.
He played in Egypt’s final group game in Russia, saving a penalty in the Pharaohs’ 2-1 defeat by Saudi Arabia.
The previous record for oldest World Cup player was also a goalkeeper, the Colombian Faryd Mondragón, who retired after the 2014 tournament aged 43.
El-Hadary will remain goalie for Egypt’s Ismaili team. He’s a celebrity at home since Egypt won three straight African Cup titles with him as goalie between 2006 and 2010. He was also named the tournament’s best goalkeeper three times.
El-Hadary took up football as a youth without his parents’ knowledge, reportedly washing his clothes in the Nile after matches to avoid them finding out.
He had never worn goalkeeper gloves before his first training session for Egypt’s local Damietta team.