Egyptian goalkeeper El Hadary with a 21st century first at the 2017 Total Africa Cup of Nations
👏 History! At the age of 44 years + 2 days, 🇪🇬Egypt’s Essam El-Hadary becomes the oldest player in CAF Africa Cup of Nations history pic.twitter.com/hfuuD0HTAI
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) January 17, 2017
El Shanawy being a losing finalist with Egyptian giant Zamalek in 2017 the CAF champions league, we were all just settling into this version of Egyptian football legend. A script that starts off with a dress rehearsal in the CAF champions league, setting the continent alight with majestic displays in club football, before conquering the continent with performance after performance in the African cup of nations for what seems to be eons.
For all the talk of a north-south sahel divide in African football, we fans of African football, take immense pride in that Egyptian thing. We love it when homegrown talent exhibits such levels of excellence. It is a validation of the Africa rising narrative. It reassures us that our dreams are valid. That we can, live and die in Africa . More, it lets us dream that African football greats like Essam El Hadary aren’t one offs. That it can happen all over again before our very eyes!
It would have been so were it not for the injury to El Shanawy following that delectable save. Essam El Hadary, winner of four African titles, Africa’s answer to Gianlugi Buffon, warming the Egyptian bench would have been just but a symbol of sentimentality (Because how often to goalkeepers get injured anyway? ). But the gods were not done.
So aged forty four years and two days, circa twenty five minutes into the game, Essam El Hadary became Africa’s oldest international. Africa’s oldest ever man it feature in it’s premier football tournament.
Social media reacts to this rare, history one off feat.
STAT ATTACK: Africa-great Essam @ElHadary is preparing to take part in what will be his 7th #AFCON.1998
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) January 17, 2017
El Hadary Oldest Player Ever
44 years and 2 days – Egypt goalkeeper @ElHadary becomes the oldest player ever at the #AFCON #MLIEGY #AFCON2017 pic.twitter.com/3XFUdrTZUR
— Football 24/7 (@foetball247) January 17, 2017
Congratulations El-Hadary! A true professional. To many more Essam! You inspire us. You uplift us! A 21st century first.