Friday, 3 February 2017

THE REMARKABLE STORY OF THE 44 YEAR OLD EGYPT GOALKEEPER AS THE OLDEST IN AFRICAN FOOTBALL


Essam El-Hadary The Oldest and Hero of AFCON 2017


Essam El-Hadar was born on the 15th of January 1973 who has being Egyptian national goalkeeper since over 21 years now, also playing for egyptian Premier League club Wadi Degla and Egypt National Football team.
The 44-year-old keeper is regard as one of the best African goalkeepers of all time. 

Dideir Drogba once told Chelsea FC Magazine while he is still at the club in April 2012 that the Egyptian goalkeeper is the "best opponent" he has ever played against. 

El-Hadary knows himself that he has been doing the job between the posts for Egypt for more than 20 years.
In fact, when he made his international debut, on March 26, 1996 at the age of 23-years-old, his opposite number[the Burkina Faso goal keeper at the quater final of the AFCON 2017 on Wednesday night (Kouakou Herve Koffi)], was not born yet.

He became the Africa Cup of Nations'oldest player when he came off the bench in Egypt's first game at the GABON 2017 AFCON. He is 44 now, and shows no sign of slowing down nor retiring soon, attributing to his longevity to hard work and good genes.

Back when the Egyptian keeper won his first Cup of Nations in 1998, Ramadan Sobhi, the Stoke winger, who is the youngest member of the current squad, was just a year old.
In fact, El-Hadary has a daughter the same age as his youngest team-mate, but he insists it doesn't make a difference to how he treats the winger.


"The player who is almost at the same age as my daughter… I treat all my team-mates as brothers and I treat him just like a team-mate," said the Egyptian Keeper earlier in the tournament.
"I embrace them all and I am always around them giving advice because this is part of my job as a team captain and friend. I don't make them feel the gap in the age because I believe this should be normal."

He might claim it is normal, but the man Didier Drogba once labelled his 'best opponent' - high praise given the goalkeepers Drogba faced in the Premier League, Champions League and beyond - is on the verge of something exceptional.
A win in the final, where Egypt will face Cameroon, would be his fifth continental title, having lifted the trophy in 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010. At the moment he shares the record of four wins with former team-mate Ahmed Hassan - a fifth would put him out on his own as the most successful ever.

Along the way, El-Hadary has set personal records too. The 10 hours and 53 minutes he went on the pitch between the 25th-minute of the 2010 quarter-final and Aristide Bance's equaliser on Wednesday night without conceding a single goal was a remarkable feat.
The 153 caps he has accrued since that first one in 1996 also make him Egypt's most capped goalkeeper - only Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas and Saudi Arabia's Mohamed Al-Deayea have played more international games between the sticks.
All the while El-Hadary remains as he always was. It seems odd to think of a goalkeeper who has been around in international football for 21 years as unreliable, but it is still the case that the best save he made on Wednesday came from his own error, and that is not atypical.
He prefers to punch crosses rather than catch them – which wouldn't be a problem except that he mostly tends to flap at the ball instead. He collapses at any physical contact, and seems to stay down longer than most. His time-wasting tactics are legendary.

This tournament has seen him concede only once, but that has been down to a tremendous backline more than to his own brilliance.
And yet, there is something inherently loveable about the old-timer. The prayers on the pitch before Wednesday's shoot-out. The obvious affection his team-mates hold for him. And the absolute refusal to go away.

El-Hadary is one more win from being a record-breaker yet again, but it is wrong to say he is a game away from greatness. He already achieved that long ago.



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