MOSCOW, Russia, June 12 – Egypt are set for World Cup history in Russia with captain and goalkeeper Essam El Hadary set to break the record as the oldest player in the competition’s history.
All eyes remained locked on Liverpool’s star Mohamad Salah and his race for fitness, but it is his captain who will make the first mark in Russia.
El Hadary appears destined to have his name written into the history books replacing former Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon as the oldest player to have appeared in a World Cup.
Mondragon featured in Brazil 2014 just three days past his 43rd birthday, but El Hadary will break that mark when he takes to the field in this edition at the age of 45 years and 150 days.
“I did not imagine that I would play until this age, but I had a dream to play at the World Cup and this was a big motivation. I also felt that I could still carry on,” Hadary told the Guardian.
El Hadary’s imminent record feat is the pinnacle in his rise after entering last year’s Africa Cup of Nations as the third-choice shot-stopper before injury thrust him into the spotlight. He would concede just three goals in six games including a star role in the penalty shootout semi-final win over Burkina Faso.
The Pharoahs finished second but the goalkeeper, who plies his trade for Al-Taawoun in Saudi Arabia, finished as his country’s number one.
“Setting targets is very important in my life; I always have targets to fulfil. Maybe I could have said: ‘That’s enough’ if I had participated at the previous World Cup, but I felt there was something missing without a World Cup appearance.
“I’m used to realising all my dreams and targets through my determination and ambition.”
El Hadary has not yet been confirmed as Egpyt’s number one when they meet Uruguay on Friday, but his undeniable ability to beat the odds would make him favourite to start, break the record and add to his 158 caps already earned.