Essam El-Hadary on World Cup dream, his age, Mohamed Salah
El-Hadary was one of the key reasons behind Egypt’s qualification for the World Cup, featuring in every group qualifier game, except the last one, which Sherif Ekramy started.
He already made history becoming the oldest player to ever feature in the Africa Cup of Nations when he replaced injured Ahmed El-Shennawy against Mali in Egypt’s recent Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
And could become the oldest player to appear at a World Cup if he managed to feature for the Pharaohs in the upcoming tournament.
The record is now being held by former Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, when he played against Japan in the 2014 World Cup aged 43 years and 3 days.
“I’m very happy to play at the World Cup, and that is a message to all footballers and others around the world, that you should believe in your dreams and fight to make them come true,” El-Hadary told BBC Sport.
“My age is 45 years old, but for me, this is just a number on paper.
“I train hard every day, I don’t know what the word ‘impossible’ means. I will keep fighting until the World Cup to have the chance to play and defend my homeland colours,” he added.
The goalkeeper will have a fight on his hands to get a starting spot in the World Cup, with Al Ahly’s Mohamed El-Shennawy and Zamalek’s Ahmed El-Shennawy having a chance to get the spot.
“My father who passed away told me that his dream is to watch me playing at a World Cup and I want to make my dad proud,” El-Hadary revealed.
“I’ve won many titles, but I have not played at a World Cup and this is the dream I want to make true, that is my main objective.”
El-Hadary, who has 156 caps to his name, has praised Mohamed Salah, saying he is proud of him after the winger’s extraordinary performances for Liverpool.
Mohamed Salah has been taking the Premier League by storm, scoring 29 league goals and 37 across all competitions and El-Hadary believes he has motivated the whole Egyptian national team.
“I’m so proud of what Mohamed Salah keeps doing – he’s started a new era for Egyptian players,” the former Al Ahly goalkeeper said.
“He changed the way that Egyptian players think and now many players have decided to search for clubs in Europe – even small clubs.
“They want to follow in Salah’s steps because what he’s done will make many clubs around the world trust in Egyptian players.”
The Pharaohs have been drawn in Group A of the World Cup alongside hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay, but what does El-Hadary think of the group?
“All the teams in our group are very strong. Saudi Arabia is an Arabic team and our matches with them will be very interesting, so it will not be easy.
“Russia will play in front of their fans and in their grounds, and when you talk about Uruguay you talk about an amazing team and big names like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, so it will not be easy at all,” El-Hadary concluded.
Full credits go to BBC.com for the original interview.
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