Egypt legend Essam El-Hadary has retired from international football.
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. He was named the best goalkeeper in Africa four times.
Earlier this summer, El-Hadary made history at the 2018 World Cup in Russia as he became the oldest player to feature in the biggest party after he stood kept in the Pharaohs’ last group game against Saudi Arabia.
The ex-Al Ahly shot-stopper even grabbed more headlines after saving a penalty kick in the tie.
The veteran goalkeeper announced his intention in a statement, saying: “There is an end for every start, after a lot of thinking I took my decision to international retirement 22 years, 4 months and 12 days from my first match with Egypt and I saw that this is the right moment to hang my gloves after we made the Egyptian people happy by participating in the world cup.
“This is a moment I didn’t want to come, I trained hard day and night to reach high performances and to be with the Egyptian team, I am very proud to play 159 matches with Egypt, won the African Cup of Nations four times, reached the final in 2017, won the best goalkeeper in Africa four times, won the Arab games in 2007 and finally reach the World Cup.
“Finally, thank god for everything. I want to thank my family for helping me always especially my father and thank every one of you for your support that helped me a lot to reach all these achievements.”
At club level, however, El-Hadary remains active between the sticks for Egyptian top-flight side Ismaily.