Egyptian grandpa Ezzeldin Bahader has been officially recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest professional footballer, breaking Israeli Isaak Hayek’s record.
The 74-year-old played for Egyptian third-tier side ‘October 6’ on Saturday against El Ayat Sports club, where he met the criteria required to be named officially as the oldest player in the world.
Bahader was to feature in two professional matches in order to be given the honor, and he could have broken the record earlier this year but for the pandemic which brought the football world to a standstill.
In March, reports said he made his pro debut after joining ‘October 6’ in January, but he had to wait until October for his second game due to the coronavirus.
On Saturday, the septuagenarian played his second full match for his team, ‘October 6’, and though he missed a penalty in a 3-2 defeat by El Ayat SC, he received all the praise from supporters, including his family and grandchildren.
“Do not limit your ambitions,” Bahader told reporters after the match.
“If there is something you couldn’t achieve as a young man, in your youth, with a strong will, you can achieve it any time, regardless of age and the time that has passed.”
Bahader is unfortunately now out of contract at ‘October 6’ and is hoping to get a new deal. In the meantime, he wouldn’t mind playing in another professional game, he said.
“I dream of being able to break my own record one more time, just to make the competition a little harder,” the father of four said.
In 2018, Egypt set a World Cup record when Essam El-Hadary became the oldest player to feature at a World Cup. At 45 years and 161 days, the legendary goalkeeper lined up against Saudi Arabia at Russia 2018 to set the record.