Longest international playing career ends after 26 years

Longest international playing career ends after 26 years

Longest international playing career ends after 26 years

After representing his country for 26 years, central defender Ildefons Lima has played his last match for Andorra- ending the longest career in international football. 

Last night, Lima started his final international, a 3-0 Euro 2024 qualifier loss to Switzerland- which featured goals from former Premier League stars Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Ildefons Lima retires from the international stage

After 23 minutes, Lima was given a standing ovation by Swiss and Andorran supporters alike as he was replaced by Ricard Fernandez Betriu who was born almost two years after Lima made his international debut.

Via a post on his official social media profile, Lima called the match against Switzerland “the last dance”. The first of Lima’s 137 caps came against Estonia on June 22 1997 and in 2021 the 43-year-old was named in the Guinness Book of Records as having achieved the longest international playing career in history.

Representing a country of just over 80,000 people in a landlocked state between France and Spain, Lima has only been involved in seven wins during his 26 years as an international.

Lima is also Andorra’s record goalscorer, finding the net 11 times with goals coming against Belgium, the Republic of Ireland, and Wales amongst others.

The center-back stands as only the third European footballer to be capped by his nation in four decades, following in the footsteps of Welsh international Billy Meredith and ex-Liverpool and Finland striker Jari Litmanen.


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