For the first time since 1990, the seven-time African champions will be participating in the global football fiesta in Russia. After Egypt’s qualification to the 2018 World Cup for the first time in 28 years, the team’s captain, Essam El Hadary, will become the oldest player to ever take part in the quadrennial event.
Everyone knows that Egypt will have one of the best players of the world in the shape of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah – but did you also know that Egypt’s 45-year-old goalkeeper is in the team too?!
Obviously he is an African legend and the best African goalkeeper of all time. Essam El-Hadary has been, and continues to be, a legendary name among players and football fanatics.
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The goalkeeper has had an incredibly successful career, taking home many names and titles, and his passion and energy seems to be the next phenomenon during the World Cup in Russia.
— Essam El-Hadary (@ElHadary) November 13, 2016
The Pharaohs’ keeper, who previously tweeted about his dream to appear with Egypt in the 2018 World Cup finals, just landed in Gerozny to lead the Egyptian squad for the World Cup challenge. He continues only for the sake of his national team.
During an ESPN interview, “My goal has always been the World Cup,” El-Hadary said. When Egypt finally qualified with a dramatic late win over Congo, “I was the happiest man in the world.”
The Remarkable story of Essam El-Hadary deserves respect.
His C.V. is certainly impressive, and you might wonder why El-Hadary didn’t turn out for a bigger club in Europe at some point in his long, long career. Since turning professional in 1993, El-Hadary has spent the large majority of his quarter-century career in Egypt.
El-Hadary’s persistence and stamina is different. A player with four African Cup of Nations victories, who started the last African Cup of Nations as Egypt’s third-choice keeper, the veteran’s experience was enough to lead a remarkable victory against Burkina Faso and send Egypt to the final match against Cameroon.
Let’s just be thankful he stayed fit. Really, absurdly fit.
Age, supposedly, is just a number. In Essam El-Hadary’s case, it is a remarkable number: 45 years and five months.
Four African Cup of Nations tournaments, where he was named goalkeeper of the tournament three times. He has also won the Egypt Cup, the Egyptian Super Cup and CAF Champions League four times each. And the list goes on and on.
Very soon, he will break the record for the oldest player to appear at the World Cup finals, a record set at the 2014 World Cup by Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, who usurped the legendary Roger Milla of Cameroon.
Without meaning any disrespect to the phenomenally successful Mondragón, El-Hadary is more deserving of the record with zero doubts.
And there’s one other reason why you should want to see El-Hadary in Russia, he truly ignites a spirit of confidence in our minds and pumps energy into the team’s heart.
We are hoping for surprises in Russia
Was he inspired by Salah? El-Hadary says Salah’s phenomenal season has motivated the whole Egyptian team.
The international goalkeeper believes that unity is the true secret of the Pharaohs’ success, stating that players are determined to defend the reputation of Egyptian football.
In the last interview with Chris Jones (ESPN Senior Writer), when asked about his age, El-Hadary said “At the World Cup, I’ll be wearing number one… Number one. That’s the only number that matters.”
The sun continues to set as El-Hadary continues to train, and he is about to make the last of his dreams come true. Egypt will begin the World Cup quest against Uruguay on June 15 at the Central Stadium in Yekaterinburg.
You can probably guess who will be Egypt’s goalkeeper for the first World Cup match in 28 years.