Andorra’s Lima calls time on record-setting international career

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After playing 137 times for Andorra over 26 years and in four different decades, Ildefons Lima made his last appearance for the country on Tuesday, bringing down the curtain on the longest international career in men’s football.

Lima, 43, made his debut for Andorra aged 17 in a 4-1 defeat by Estonia in 1997, which was the country’s second official international match. The defender went on to score 11 goals for Andorra and captain the national team.

In 2021, the Guinness World Records book said Lima had achieved the record for the longest international playing career for a male footballer.

Lima played 23 minutes in Andorra’s 3-0 defeat by Switzerland in a Euro 2024 Group I qualifier, starting the game before being substituted to a standing ovation from fans at the Stade de Tourbillon in Switzerland.

His appearance against Switzerland also made Lima the oldest footballer to have played in a Euro qualifier.

“Congratulations to Andorra’s Ildefons Lima on an incredible journey, the longest national team career ever,” UEFA said in a post on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter.

The women’s record for the longest international career is held by ex-Brazil international Formiga, who played for 26 years between 1995-2021 and made over 200 appearances.

Andorra’s defender Ildefons Lima (C) reacts for the end of his career before he leaves the pitch during the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying group I soccer match between Switzerland and Andorra, in Sion, Switzerland. EPA-EFE/LAURENT GILLIERON

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