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Essam El-Hadary, the 44-year-old preparing for his World Cup debut

The Egypt goalkeeper, who made his debut when some of his current team-mates were not even born, should become the oldest player at a World Cup

By Josh Sippie for for These Football Times, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The busy intersection of 25th Avenue and Steinway Street was completely shut down due to the mass of people chanting, singing, cheering and screaming. Flags were waving high above the crowds as the police simply sat and watched. This wasn’t a riot, though; this was a party. Egypt had just qualified for their first World Cup since 1990 and in the Little Egypt of New York that was cause for celebration.

It’s always special when a nation returns to the peak of their sport after a long leave of absence. People at home and abroad unite, like they did a month ago when Mohamed Salah sealed Egypt’s place at the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Congo with his coolly taken penalty kick. Egypt finished their qualifying campaign over the weekend with a 1-1 draw in Ghana but that 95th-minute winner was the moment their fans had been waiting for.

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