Who is, or was, the oldest professional footballer in the world?

According to Guiness World Records, the oldest professional footballer to play in an official match was Egyptian Ezzeldin Mohamed Ali Bahader. Born on November 3, 1945, Bahader made his debut for 6 October Club, Cairo agaist Genius Football Club in the Egyptian Third Division on March 6, 2020, at the age of 74 years and 125 days. Despite carrying hamstring and knee injuries, the grandfather-of-six completed the full 90 minutes and, in a truly fairytale ending, scored a late goal from the penalty spot to tie the scores at 1-1.

Bahader said afterwards, ‘I’ve always longed to play for a big club, but it remained just a dream.’ However, inspired by the exploits of Japanese striker Kazuyoshi ‘King Kazu’ Miura – who was just 50 years and 14 days old when he became the oldest professional player to score in an official match, in 2017 – he set himself a new target and starting applying to join clubs.

Of course, the ambitious septuagenarian hit the target, figuratively and literally, at the first time of asking, but he also became, officially, the oldest active professional footballer, beating the previous record set by Israeli goalkeeper Isaak Hiyak. Hiyak was 73 years and 357 days old when he turned out for his club, Maccabi Ironi Or Yehuda, in the Israeli Fourth Division, on April 5, 2019. Reflecting on his achievenments, Bahader said, philosophically, ‘Nothing is easy, but nothing is impossible.’

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