He played in 4 different decades.. The owner of the longest international football career announces his retirement

After playing 137 matches with Andorra over 26 years in 4 different decades, Ildefons Lima participated for the last time with his country Andorra’s national team yesterday, Tuesday, bringing the curtain down on the longest international career in men’s football.

Lima (43 years old) played his first international match with Andorra, when he was 17 years old, in a 4-1 defeat against Estonia in 1997, which was the second official international match for his country.

The defender scored 11 goals during his career with Andorra, and wore the captaincy of the national team.

In 2021, Guinness World Records announced that Lima had achieved the record for the longest international playing career for a football player.

Lima played 23 minutes in the match that Andorra lost 0-3 to Switzerland in the European Championship 2024 qualifiers, where he started the match before being substituted amid warm applause from the fans at the Tourbillon Stadium in Switzerland.

The coach replaced him in the match with his colleague Ricard Fernandez Petrio, who was born almost two years after Lima’s first international appearance.

With his participation against Switzerland, Lima also became the oldest footballer to participate in a European Championship qualifying match.

The European Union (UEFA) said on the “X” social media platform, “Congratulations to Andorra player Ildefons Lima on his amazing journey. The longest career with a national team ever.”

The women’s record for the longest international career is held by former Brazilian player Formiga, who played for 26 years between 1995 and 2021 and played more than 200 matches.

Lima is the third European footballer to participate in 4 different decades, alongside Welshman Billy Meredith (1895 – 1920) and Finnish Jari Litmanen (1989 – 2010).

At the club level, Lima played for several clubs; The most prominent of which are: Espanyol, Las Palmas, and Rayo Vallecano in Spain, and he is currently defending the colors of the Andorra B team, owned by former Barcelona and Spanish national team defender Gerard Pique.

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