Spain's Casillas hails Egypt's keeper El-Hadary after Nations Cup record

El-Hadary says he continues only for the sake of the national team, previously saying he hopes to appear in the 2018 World Cup

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Saturday 28 Jan 2017,
Egypt's captain Essam El Hadary (AFP)

Spain and Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas has hailed Egypt's veteran keeper Essam El-Hadary on his record in the current African Cup of Nations in Gabon.

The 44-year-old El-Hadary, who currently plays for Egypt's Wadi Degla, made history, becoming the oldest player to feature in the African Cup of Nations earlier in January.

"El-Hadary's achievement deserves applause," the former Real Madrid star Casillas said on Twitter late Friday.

The injury of Egypt's first choice keeper, Ahmed El-Shennawi, after just 24 minutes of the African Cup opener with Mali, paved the way for El-Hadary to write a new chapter in his fruitful career.

El-Hadary broke the record of former teammate Hossam Hassan, Egypt's all-time leading scorer who was 39 when he took part in the 2006 Nations Cup on home soil.

"Thank you dear Casillas," the veteran Egyptian goalkeeper El-Hadary said, reacting to Casillas's praise on Twitter.

Iker Casillas

Big responsibility

The Pharaohs keeper, who previously said he hopes to appear with Egypt in the 2018 World Cup finals, insists that he continues only for the sake of his national team.

"It is nice for me and my country to be praised by one of the world's best keepers. I hold this dear," El-Hadary told Egyptian website Yallakora from Gabon.

"I want to thank Casillas. He wasn't the only one to admire me, as Italy's legend Gianluigi Buffon and others did that before.

"Casillas's tweet puts a big responsibility on my shoulders. I want to tell him that I don't look for personal glories as my country's team and winning the title are more important," the former Ismaily keeper added.

El-Hadary, who made his Egypt debut in 1996, is also one tournament short of equaling the record for most Nations Cup appearances held by former Egypt skipper Ahmed Hassan and ex-Cameroon defender Rigobert Song who played in eight editions.

The former Ahly and Zamalek keeper only missed the 2004 Nations Cup in Tunisia since making his first appearance in 1998.

He also remains one of only two players, alongside veteran right-back Ahmed Fathi, from the golden generation that gave Egypt three consecutive Nations Cup titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010 under ex-boss Hassan Shehata.

Egypt will play Morocco in the African Cup quarterfinals Sunday while Egyptians put hope on El-Hadary who kept a clean sheet in two wins over Ghana and Uganda, and a draw against Mali so far.

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

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