Veteran international goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary is set to make history this summer by becoming the oldest player to play in the World Cup after he was selected in the Egyptian national team’s squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Daily News Egypt sheds light on the oldest footballers who played for their countries in previous World Cup tournaments.
1- Colombia’s Faryd Mondragon (43 years old)
After participating in the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Faryd Mondragon, Colombia’s second choice goalkeeper, became the oldest person ever to play at the World Cup, breaking a previous record held by Cameroonian Roger Milla. Mondragon, born 21 June 1971, played for several French and German clubs.
2- Cameroon’s Roger Milla (42 years old)
The Cameroonian icon Roger Milla made history at two separate FIFA World Cups, becoming the tournament’s oldest-ever goalscorer in 1990 and then breaking his own record four years later at the age of 42. It was remarkable enough that Milla became the first and, to date, only man over the age of 38 to score at a World Cup when he contributed to Cameroon’s quarter-final run in 1990. But it was truly astonishing that he returned four years later and, 39 days after turning 42, set a World Cup record that looks sure to be one for the ages.
3- Italy’s Dino Zoff (41 years old)
The Italian goalkeeper, Dino Zoff, (73 years old) was the oldest player to win the 1982 World Cup at the age of 40, when the Azzurri beat West Germany 3-1 in the final game. Zoff led Italy to win its third World Cup title, which was also his fourth appearance in the tournament, including the 1970, 1974, and 1978 editions.
4- England’s Peter Shilton (40 years old)
Peter Shilton (64 years old) retired from England duty following the 1990 World Cup, during which he made his 125th appearance for his country. His final appearance came just four months before the 20th anniversary of his international debut, making his full international career one of the longest on record.
Shilton is one of the footballers who kept playing up to 47 years old but retired internationally at the age of 40.
5- Tunisia’s Ali Boumnijel (40 years old)
Ali Boumnijel played for Tunisia in the 1998, 2002, and 2006 FIFA World Cups. Boumnijel was Tunisia’s first choice goalkeeper and played at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, which the Tunisian team won. In the semifinals, he saved a crucial penalty from Peter Odemwingie to help Tunisia beat Nigeria in a penalty shootout. Aged 40, he was the oldest player at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Boumnijel has been praised for his great leadership and goalkeeping skills during the World Cup.
6- England’s Stanley Matthews (39 years old)
Between 1934 and 1957, Stanley Mathews won 54 caps for England, playing in the FIFA World Cup in 1950 and 1954, and winning nine British Home Championship titles.
7- Cameroon’s Joseph-Antoine Bell (39 years old)
Joseph-Antoine Bell played for the Cameroonian national team. He was in the squads at the 1982 and 1990 FIFA World Cup but did not play any matches. He was also selected for the squad for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where he eventually made his debut, playing in two of Cameroon’s group matches.
8- Germany’s Lothar Matthaus (37 years old)
German Lothar Matthaus played his last World Cup match against Croatia in the quarter-finals of the 1998 World Cup. At the age of 37, Matthaus became the only player to play 25 World Cup matches.
9- Paraguay’s Jose Luis Chilavert (37 years old)
At the age of 37, Jose Luis Chilavert played with Paraguay in the 2002 World Cup held in South Korea and Japan. He is the second-highest goalscoring goalkeeper of all time, surpassed only by Brazilian keeper Rogerio Ceni, and is the only goalkeeper to score a hat-trick.
10- Brazil’s Cafu (36 years old)
Marcos Evangelista de Morais, known as Cafu, is a Brazilian footballer with 142 appearances for the Brazilian national team. He is the most internationally capped Brazilian player of all time. Cafu remains the only player who played in three consecutive World Cup final games.
11- Colombia’s Carlos Valderrama (36 years old)
Colombia’s playmaker Carlos Valderrama ended his international career at the 1998 World Cup held in France with 111 caps and 11 goals.
12- Essam El-Hadary (45 years old)
El-Hadary is set to break records and become the oldest player to play in the World Cup’s history at the age of 45, beating his closest contender, Colombia’s Faryd Mondragon (43 when he played in the cup), not by a few months, but by a couple of years.
El-Hadary needs to take part in one of Egypt’s three matches against Uruguay, Russia, and Saudi Arabia in the first stage.
He will also surpass Roger Milla, who played in the 1994 World Cup held in the United States. El-Hadary won four Africa Cup of Nations titles with Egypt in 1998, 2006, 2008, and 2010.