Egypt’s Essam Elhadary has finally become the oldest player to play in a World Cup after making the starting XI in Egypt’s last group game of this year’s World Cup.
Elhadary is now become the oldest player at the age of 45 years and 161 days to play in a World Cup. He is aged two years and 158 days older than Colombian Faryd Mondragon, who previously held the record.
He sat out in the first two games of Egypt’s campaign as Mohamed El-Shenawy started ahead of the veteran. But, the captain returned for the final of their campaign to achieve the record at the Samara Arena on Monday.
And, he left a mark on this match as well. He saved a penalty in the 41st minute of the match. Saudi’s Fahad hit the ball to the right but the 45-year-old dived towards his right and put a strong hand and pushed the ball to the cross-bar to keep Egypt’s lead intact. But four minutes later, Saudi were awarded another penalty and this time they made no mistake.Salman calmly guided the ball past the keeper to level the scoring.
The Egyptian, who was born on January 15th, 1973, is 25 years and 339 days older than the youngest player to play in the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe, born on December 20, 1998 is the youngest player in this year’s World Cup.
Before Elhadary, Mondragon was the oldest to take the field at the age of 43 years and 3 days when his team took on Japan in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Cameroon’s Roger Milla (42 years, 1 month and 8 days), Northern Ireland’s Pat Jennings (41 years), England’s Peter Shilton (40 years, 9 months and 19 days) and Italy’s Dino Zoff (40 years, 4 months and 13 days) are the other four in the top five list.
The 45-year-old is playing a World Cup more than 22 years after making his debut. Sadly, the occasion wasn’t the ideal for him as he took the field against Saudi Arabia.
Saudi and Egypt are trying to avoid finishing last in Group A as they bow out of the World Cup, a disappointing end to the tournament in particular for Egypt and their usually prolific striker Mohamed Salah.
Both teams lost their first two games and the only thing they can salvage in the Volgograd Arena is the chance not to finish bottom of their group.
For Saudi Arabia, the match also offers the possibility of a first goal in the tournament in Russia.
Egypt, making their first World Cup appearance since 1990, had been tipped to advance into the knockout rounds after looking strong in the qualifiers.
But they narrowly lost to 1-0 to Uruguay in their opening match, which Salah missed as he recovered from his Champions League final injury with Liverpool. They then went down 3-1 to hosts Russia.