Al-Ahram Weekly Online   8 - 14 March 2012
Issue No. 1088
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Most capped

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AHMED HASSAN put his record beyond doubt as the most capped player of all time after leading Egypt during their 10-day Gulf camp. In Qatar, Hassan earned his 180th international cap, overtaking retired Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Deayea who played 178 international games.While the second most capped active player is Ecuador's Ivan Hurtado who played 167 international games.

Hassan reached 179 international games against Kenya on 27 February and 180 against Niger on 29 February. He broke Al-Deayea's record when he played Kenya.

There were doubts over whether that appearance would be recognised because it came against a weakened U23 Kenya side. However, earlier in the game, football's world governing body FIFA confirmed that Hassan's 179th cap was the official record-breaker.

Hassan's joy at reaching the milestone was tinged with sadness as he admitted to still being traumatized by the death of 74 football fans after a league match in Port Said last month.

"Of course I am happy with the achievement, but my happiness is not complete. I am still saddened by the death of Ahli fans in the Port Said disaster," Hassan said on his website.

"I have waited for this achievement for so long, but I hoped to get it in better circumstances," added the model professional whose club career spanned several clubs in Egypt and Turkey including Belgian outfit Anderlecht.

"My career with Egypt is not over yet. Some people said I carried on playing with the national team to reach a personal achievement, but this is completely untrue."

Given the fact that Hassan believes his own career is not over yet, leaving the possibility of a 200th cap in sight.

Former United States coach Bob Bradley, appointed late last year to succeed three-time Africa Cup of Nations winner Hassan Shehata, lavished praise on the record breaker.

"Ahmed Hassan has been a winner in his career, a footballer who leads by example and plays with energy and commitment," Bradley told a post-match Doha media conference.

"The record is something every Egyptian must be proud of and has been earned after a great career. He has been such an important member of the national team for so many years."

The 36-year-old has been one of Egypt's most consistent performers since making his senior team debut in December 1995 in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Ghana. He has been to eight Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. He has won four continental crowns, three of them as captain.

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