Oldest World Cup players list now topped by Egypt's Essam El Hadary - in pictures

The penalty was struck hard enough to the goalkeeper's right for Saudi Arabia's Fahad Al Muwallad to expect to see the net rippling a fraction of a second later.

But then an arm stretched out to produce an incredible save, pushing the ball on to the underside of the crossbar and out to safety. Players poured in to congratulate the goalkeeper while jubilant fans jumped up and down behind the goal.

Watching from a distance you might think it was David de Gea or Manuel Neuer producing such a moment of flexibility and quick reactions. It was actually a 45-year-old making his World Cup debut.

Egyptian Essam El Hadary showed the agility of a man 20 years his junior as he marked an occasion, which would have been memorable enough even if he had not saved a penalty.

He became the World Cup's oldest player at 45 years and 161 days, eclipsing the previous record held by Colombia keeper Faryd Mondragon, who was 43 years and three days when he played at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.


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"What I accomplished in this tournament was the result of years of hard work, dedicated training and suffering that only a few know about," he told Fifa.com after his 159th appearance for his country.

Egypt manager Hector Cuper said after his side's 2-1 defeat, which means they go home without any points, that El Hadary was "the right person to play" because there "is not much between our three goalkeepers".

For obvious physical reasons, the oldest players in World Cup history have predominantly been goalkeepers, although Cameroon strikers Roger Milla was an exception.

He played at the World Cup in 1994 and scored Cameroon's consolation goal in a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Russia in a group match to become the oldest scorer at a World Cup, at the age of 42 years, 1 month and 8 days.


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