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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Age is just a number, says Egypt's 45-year-old goalie El-Hadary

Ahram Online , Monday 2 Apr 2018
Egypt
Egypt's goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary (Reuters)
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Egypt's veteran keeper Essam El-Hadary said on Monday that playing in the starting line-up in this summer's World Cup would be a dream come true, stressing that age is just a number.

The 45-year-old could become the oldest player to participate in the World Cup if he gets the chance to play with the Pharoahs.

In 2014, retired Colombian keeper Faryd Mondragon became the oldest man to play in the World Cup when he came as a late substitute in his side's group stage game against Japan.

Mondragon was 43 years and three days old. El-Hadary is determined to break the Colombian's record.

"My age is 45 years old, but for me, this is just a number on paper," El-Hadary told BBC Sports on Monday.

"I train hard every day, I don't know what the word 'impossible' means. I will keep fighting until the World Cup to have the chance to play and defend my homeland colours."

El-Hadary has many achievements with Egypt, having won the Africa Cup of Nations four times during his international career, which began in March 1996.

In spite of these accomplishments, he said several times that his main dream is to play in the World Cup.

The Taawoun keeper added his experience and his determination is an example to follow for all footballers.

"I've won many titles, but I have not played at a World Cup and this is the dream I want to make true, that is my main objective," he explained.

"I'm very happy to play at the World Cup, and that is a message to all footballers and others around the world, that you should believe in your dreams and fight to make them come true."

The former Ahly, Zamalek and Ismaily keeper believes that Pharaohs' mission in the World Cup will not be easy.

Egypt, who reached the World Cup after a 28-year absence, were drawn in Group A with Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

"All the teams in our group are very strong. Saudi Arabia is an Arab team and our matches with them will be very interesting, so it will not be easy," he said.

"Russia will play in front of their fans and on their own ground, and when you talk about Uruguay you talk about an amazing team and big names like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, so it will not be easy at all," he concluded.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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