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Egyptian goalkeeper El Hadary with a 21st century first at the 2017 Total Africa Cup of Nations

Surely, it must be the football gods! Egypt No. 1 in the 2017 edition of Total Africa Cup of nations, El Shanawy, makes the save of the tournament: A majestic leap to his left that denies Mali the goal that if it were to have been converted, would have upset an exciting, tactically delicately poised match. In doing so, he is also to deny himself his audition before the African continent. Just like abou Trika and Essam El Hadary before him.

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

El Hadary Oldest Player Ever

Congratulations El-Hadary! A true professional. To many more Essam! You inspire us. You uplift us! A 21st century first.

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