Egypt’s Essam El Hadary becomes AFCON’s oldest ever player 2 days after 44th birthday

Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary stepped on the field for the injured Ahmed El-Shenawy in the 25th minute against Mali, setting the African Cup of Nations’ record for oldest ever player at the age of 44 years and two days.

Considered one of the best African goalkeepers of all time, El Hadary’s substitute appearance was his 148th cap for Egypt in a career that began all the way back in 1996. A four-time AFCON champion, El Hadary has won best goalkeeper in the tournament three times previously.

Starting goalkeeper El-Shenawy went down with an apparent shoulder injury in the 25th minute, and El Hadary stepped on to help Egypt keep a clean sheet against Mali in their opening match of the tournament.

Should El Hadary appear for Egypt in their next match against Uganda on January 21st, he’ll extend the record even further. It was previously held by fellow Egyptian Hossam Hassan, who was 39 years, five months and 24 days when he appeared in the 2006 AFCON.