Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who became the oldest player in World Cup history in Russia, has announced his retirement from international soccer at aged 45.
El-Hadary earned the last of his 159 caps for the national team in a 2-1 group stage defeat by Saudi Arabia as Egypt crashed out of the tournament with three losses.
The veteran overtook Colombia’s Faryd Mondragon, who played the last five minutes of a group game in Brazil four years ago, at the age of 43 years and three days.
“After 22 years, four months and 12 days, I saw it as the best moment to hang up my gloves,” El-Hadary said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“I’m proud to have played with the national team in 159 internationals, participating in unprecedented achievements.
“I hope I have succeeded in my mission over the past years.
“I extend my thanks and gratitude to my family, who have borne the difficulties of my life and supported me in all my steps.”
The 45-year-old was handed his debut in 1996 and went on to play in 159 matches in a career that spanned over two decades.
He won four African Cup of Nations [1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010], but was denied a fifth in 2017 after Cameroon’s sensational triumph. Also, he was named the best goalkeeper in Africa four times.