World Cup | Will Essam El-Hadary become the World Cup’s oldest player?

The World Cup has featured several players over the age of 40.

Dino Zoff won the tournament in 1982 at the age of 40, while other 40 somethings to have played in the Finals include Peter Shilton, Pat Jennings, Roger Milla, and the current oldest player, Faryd Mondragon.

Mondragon played in Colombia’s last group game in the 2014 Finals, as their manager decided to rest some key starters because they had already assured themselves of a place in the last 16.

When he kept goal against Japan he was just a few days past his 43rd birthday but will his record remain in place for at least another four years?

With the final squads not to be confirmed until the 4th June, it remains to be seen whether anyone can break Mondragon’s record but as it stands there is a possibility that Egyptian goalkeeper, Essam El-Hadary, could play at 45 years old.

El-Hadary’s senior career began back in 1993 when he debuted for his local club, Damietta.

He would soon move to Al Ahly where he won eight Egyptian league titles, four Egyptian Cups, four Egyptian Super Cups, four CAF Champions Leagues, three CAF Super Cups, an Arab Champions Cup, and two Arab Super Cups.

He left Al Ahly a decade ago at 35 years old but unlike most normal players of his age, he had no thoughts of retirement.

Instead he has spent the last ten years playing for seven different clubs in four countries, adding a Swiss Cup with Sion, and a Sudanese league title and Sudanese Cup with Al-Merreikh.

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Internationally, he has been representing the Pharaohs since 1996 and has helped them win four African Cup of Nations including three in a row between 2006 and 2010.

In those three tournaments he also made it into the Team of the Tournament each time.

It remains to be seen whether El-Hadary will get the opportunity to break the record but he did feature in five of the six group games that saw Egypt qualify for the Finals, but he is yet to feature for the national team since keeping goal in the 2-1 win over Congo when they secured qualification.

Egypt have played four games since then and El-Hadary is yet to feature which is surely a huge concern to the veteran shot stopper.

If Egypt don’t decide to go with El-Hadary it could end up being any of Sherif Ekramy, Mohamed El-Shenawy, or Mohamed Awad who are all in the provisional squad and have all played one of the three friendlies that Egypt have had in 2018.

It’s unclear whether Egypt’s manager, Hector Cuper is simply trying to straighten out who his second and third choice goalkeepers are or whether he has concerns over El-Hadary’s age and might decide to play one of the others in his place.

While the only opinion that matters will be that of Cuper, most football fans enjoy the romanticism of a record breaker and the neutrals will be hoping El-Hadary gets the nod.

He played the majority of the games in the qualifying campaign and it would feel harsh to see him get so close to such an achievement only to snatch it away from him by either having him on the bench, or worse still, not in the squad at all.

 

Gerry Johnston

 

This article originally appeared on gj2018worldcup.wordpress.com, where you can find a definite World Cup guide.