It had to happen sometime. The man, the myth, the legend Essam El-Hadary finally whistled full-time on his international football career this week at the age of 45.
His unequaled tenure in goal for the Pharaohs spanned three separate decades, starting in 1996 and ending in 2018 as the oldest player to ever feature at a FIFA World Cup.
In that time he amassed 159 caps for Egypt, including an incredible four Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles (1998, 2006, 2008, 2010).
His international exploits alone would make several nations blush, let alone players.
To celebrate and give thanks for all the joy he’s brought Egyptians over the years, we’ve collected 10 of El-Hadary’s best moments in what was probably the most difficult piece we’ve ever put together. Not just because we’re sad to see him go, but because there were just so many to choose from that it was almost impossible to narrow them down.
10. El-Hadary made a career out of saving penalties. But in 2017, he scored a penalty himself, rifling the ball into the top corner for Saudi Arabia’s Al Taawoun.
9. That time he stonewalled Senegalese legend El Hadji Diouf.
8. Saving two penalties – and undoubtedly getting in the Al-Hilal players’ heads to force a third miss – handing Al-Marrikh the 2012 Sudanese Cup.
7. That time he saved Zamalek winger Hazem Emam’s panenka. Nobody disrespects The High Dam like that!
6. When he became the oldest player in World Cup history and the oldest to ever save a World Cup penalty on the same day.
5. When he scored that goal, from 55-yards out against South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs.
4. His penalty shootout performance against Burkina Faso at AFCON 2017 to almost single-handedly (and single-leggedly?) send Egypt to the final.
That time One of the many times he stonewalled Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba; this one in the AFCON 2008 semifinals.
2. His penalty shootout heroics, again against Drogba and Ivory Coast in the 2006 AFCON final, which sparked Egypt’s historic AFCON threepeat.
1. And of course, who can forget the day Egypt stunned world champions Italy at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup? It was a goalkeeping display that will forever go down in history as one of the world’s all-time bests, let alone El-Hadary’s.
The indelible image of El-Hadary’s signature crossbar dancing after major victories will forever be etched in our brains.
With that in mind, as Egypt fans say… “‘Or’oss ya Hadary”… you couldn’t have asked for a better career, and neither could we.