Legendary Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, the oldest ever footballer to play in the FIFA World Cup Finals, will be arriving in the kingdom tomorrow, writes Hadi Galal.
He now plays a valued role as part of the Syrian coaching staff. The team will be arriving to play Bahrain in a friendly at Tuesday’s Shaikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Stadium in Arad, home of Muharraq.
The keeper is well remembered for starring in Egypt’s clash against Saudi Arabia in the 2018 World Cup Finals group stage in Russia, by saving a spot kick.
At that moment he broke two records, firstly as the oldest player to appear in the finals and secondly, the oldest to save a penalty at the age of 45 years and 161 days. He retired after that game having won 159 caps with The Pharaohs.
Lovingly nicknamed ‘The High Dam’, he also shares African football records as the player to have won the most African Cup of Nations titles with another Egyptian legend, Ahmed Hassan, four in total.
El Hadary participated in seven African Cup of Nations tournaments, breaking a record in his last appearance against Cameroon in 2017, which took place in Gabon, playing at the age of 44 years and 21 days.
During his playing career he starred for Egyptian giants Al Ahly, Zamalek and Ismaily, winning 15 local and six African titles for Al Ahly. He also notched a Swiss Cup title with Sion and two local titles with Sudanese side Al Merreikh.
The Egyptian veteran started his coaching career in 2021 with Egypt, leading the national team to the final game in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
He joined the Syrian national team earlier this year, reuniting with his former coach Héctor Cúper who ironically took Egypt to the FIFA World Cup Finals 2018 in Russia … and that famous High Dam penalty save.