El-Hadary at the 2018 FIFA World Cup
|Full name||Essam Kamal Tawfiq El-Hadary|
|Date of birth||15 January 1973|
|Place of birth||Kafr El-Battikh, Damietta, Egypt|
|Height||1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|2012||→ Al-Ittihad Alexandria (loan)||1||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:35, 2 August 2018 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 25 June 2018
Nicknamed the "High Dam", he has spent the largest portion of his club career with Al-Ahly, with whom he won eight Egyptian Premier League titles, four Egypt Cups, four Egyptian Super Cups, four CAF Champions League titles, three CAF Super Cups, one Arab Club Champions Cup, and two Arab Super Cups. His other clubs have included Damietta, Sion (with whom he won the Swiss Cup), Ismaily, Zamalek, Al Merreikh (with whom he won the Sudan Premier League and the Sudan Cup), Al-Ittihad Alexandria, and Wadi Degla.
Third on the list of all-time appearances for Egypt entering the 2018 World Cup, El-Hadary has made over 150 international appearances for his nation since his debut in 1996. He has won the Africa Cup of Nations four times, and was named the tournament's best goalkeeper on three occasions. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup, at the age of 45 years and 161 days, he became the oldest player in history to play in a World Cup match.
Born in Kafr al-Battikh in Damietta, El-Hadary's father was a craftsman who owned his own workshop making furniture. El-Hadary took up playing football without his parent's knowledge, washing his muddy clothes in a local river after playing in order to avoid them knowing. He was spotted by his local football team before being signed by Second Division club Damietta at age 17. In his first training session, he was offered goalkeeping gloves, having previously never worn a pair, but refused to wear them and would run the 7 km to training everyday. He made his first team debut for Damietta in 1993 at the age of 20, and after two seasons signed a pre-contract with Egyptian champions Al-Ahly. In 12 years at the Cairo club he won eight Egyptian Premier League titles, four Egypt Cups, four Egyptian Super Cups, four CAF Champions League titles, three CAF Super Cups, one Arab Club Champions Cup, and two Arab Super Cups.
Swiss club FC Sion announced that they had signed El-Hadary on a four-year contract in February 2008, despite objections from his club El Ahly due to the fact that he was still under contract with them. El-Hadary was fined and suspended by El-Ahly, before world governing body FIFA gave permission for Sion to complete the deal.
In 2009, FIFA suspended El-Hadary and penalized Sion, even though he had already decided to return to Egypt. In July, while his suspension was stayed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, El-Hadary moved to Egyptian Premier League side Ismaily. In 2010, his 4 month suspension was upheld by the CAS, and in January a Swiss civil court upheld the ban and fines and additionally ordered him to pay FIFA's court costs.
In December 2010, after a brief stint with Zamalek SC, El-Hadary moved to Sudanese club Al-Merreikh. After boycotting practices due to a pay dispute, he was loaned to Al-Ittihad Alexandria, but after a stadium riot in Port Said led to the suspension of the 2011–12 Egyptian Premier League season he returned to Sudan again. After his contract there expired, he returned to Egypt, playing for Wadi Degla in 2014, moving back to Ismaily in 2014, and returning again to Wadi Degla in 2015. Throughout this period, he continued to be acclaimed one of the best footballers ever to play for Egypt or anywhere in Africa; in 2013 he was included in Bleacher Report's "50 Greatest African Players of All Time" list, ranked number 6. In 2017, an argument with a teammate lead to El-Hadary being thrown off the Wadi Degla team briefly; in June, he signed for Al-Taawoun to become the first foreign goalkeeper to play in Saudi Arabia.
El-Hadary has represented Egypt over 150 times since his international debut in 1996, winning the African Cup of Nations four times with his country. He was chosen as the best goalkeeper in the 2006 African Cup of Nations, held in homeland Egypt, in the 2008 African Cup of Nations, held in Ghana and for the 2010 African Cup of Nations, held in Angola.
In January 2013 his agent tweeted that El-Hadary had retired from international football after being benched for a run of games, being the 23rd most capped international player in history and also the player with most African Cup of Nations titles. He returned to the national team in a match against Bosnia Herzegovina on 5 March 2014, winning 2–0.
On 4 June 2016, El-Hadary played the full 90 minutes in a 2–0 win against Tanzania which secured Egypt's qualification for 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. On 17 January 2017, two days after his 44th birthday, he became the oldest player to ever appear in an Africa Cup of Nations match after replacing Ahmed El-Shenawy in Egypt's first match of the tournament. On 1 February 2017, El-Hadary saved two penalties as Egypt defeated Burkina Faso 4–3 in a penalty shoot-out to advance to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Final.
In June 2018, at the age of 45, he was named in Egypt’s 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. He was the oldest of all players selected for the tournament, beating the record set by Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón in the previous edition of the tournament. On 25 June, El Hadary was handed a start in Egypt's final group match against Saudi Arabia to become the oldest player ever to play in and debut at a World Cup at the age of 45 years and 161 days, once again breaking Mondragón's record of 43 years and three days. El-Hadary stopped a penalty kick in the first half of the match, but subsequently conceded from a second penalty just before half time; his team eventually lost the game 1–2 after conceding a late goal in stoppage time.
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Essam el-Hadary, goalkeeper of the national team, is preparing for a new record to add to his records in football, that “the high dam” will be the [oldest] goalkeeper in the history of the World Cup.
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Switzerland's supreme court has ordered Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary to pay Fifa $12,500 in legal costs over his failed appeal against a ban for breaking his contract.
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El-Hadary was dismissed from the Wadi Degla squad for the game against Ahly in the Egyptian Premier League on Thursday for misconduct after he quarreled with the team's second choice goalie Khaled Walid during trainings.
- "Essam El Hadary: Egypt hero denies slapping Wadi Degla team-mate". BBC Sport. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
Wadi Degla president Maged Samy has suggested he will transfer El Hadary.... El Hadary said he later received a call from Samy, who told him that he could resume training after Thursday's game, but did not dismiss the possibility of a transfer.
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Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary became the oldest player at an Africa Cup of Nations tournament as he kept a clean sheet in their draw against Mali
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It had to be him. Essam El-Hadary is the Africa Cup of Nations’ oldest ever player. Its most successful ever player. And now he is going to yet another final thanks to his own penalty heroics.
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- "Essam El-Hadary". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman.
- "157 appearances according to some sources, as FIFA, unlike the Egyptian Football Association, does not recognise two appearances El-Hadary made in a 2–0 friendly away win over Qatar in Doha on 28 December 2012, and in a 1–0 friendly home win over Kenya in Aswan on 30 August 2014.
- "12 appearances according to some sources, as, unlike the Egyptian FA, FIFA does not recognise an appearance El-Hadary made in a 2–0 friendly away win over Qatar in Doha on 28 December 2012.
- "3 appearances according to some sources, as, unlike the Egyptian FA, FIFA does not recognise an appearance El-Hadary made in a 1–0 friendly home win over Kenya in Aswan on 30 August 2014.