Egypt’s legendary goalkeeper Essam El Hadary retires at 47

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Former Egyptian national team goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS

Essam El Hadary, Egypt’s legendary goalkeeper, brought an end to his glittering career on Thursday announcing his retirement from football during a live television show.

El Hadary’s last club was Nogoom, an Egyptian second division club based in Giza. He said the game was in disarray with a lot of infighting at the top level.

“Football is my second wife and I have divorced it. I am not returning to play football again, the entire system has errors and club heads attacking each other, and may God be in the help of the players,” El Hadary said.

Despite his dismay at the current state of the game, El Hadary left supremely confident of his place as the nation’s greatest shot-stopper.

“There is nothing to add to my footballing history. There is no goalkeeper in Egypt better than me. I only sat on the bench in 1998 for goalkeeper Nader El-Sayed,” he said.

El Hadary spent much of his club career with Egyptian giants Al Ahly where he won several titles, including eight Egyptian Premier League titles, four Egyptian Cups and Super Cups, four CAF Champions League titles, three CAF Super Cups and one Arab Club Champions Cup.

He also played for other clubs in Egypt including Al Ahly’s bitter rivals Zamalek, Ismaily, Wadi Degla and Al-Ittihad. Outside Egypt, he played in Sudan for Al Merreikh and in Switzerland for Sion.

El Hadary also represented Egypt 159 times having made his debut for the Pharaohs in 1996. He would go on to win four Africa Cup of Nations titles being named the tournament’s best goalkeeper thrice (2006, 2008 and 2010).

He also made history by becoming the oldest player in history to play in a World Cup match in the 2018 edition, the only one he featured in. At 45 years and 161 days, he eclipsed Colombian Faryd Mondragón’s record of 43 years and three days.

He retired from international football in August 2018 saying he “saw it as the best moment to hang up my gloves.”

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