VIDEO. Selected since 1997, the captain of Andorra Ildefons Lima will beat a world record against Turkey


Ildefons Lima, captain of Andorra, during the match against France in Saint-Denis, on September 10, 2019. – Lionel Bonaventure / AFP

  • Ildefons Lima will become this Sunday in Andorra-Turkey the world record holder of longevity in selection.
  • The Andorran captain played his first international match on 22 June 1997, 22 years and 148 days ago.
  • The almost forty-year-old has confided his "pride" to "20 Minutes".

June 22, 1997. In Paris, Lionel Jospin has just arrived at Matignon. In Edinburgh,
a certain J.K. Rowling has finally managed to put his first novel, after dozens of refusals from publishers. Harry Potter at the wizard school will be released four days later in the UK, at only 1,000 copies. In Kuressaare (Estonia), where Andorra plays the second game in its history, the young Pyrenean 17-year-old Ildefons Lima celebrates his first goal-scoring draw in a friendly 4-1 defeat.

22 years and 148 days later, all the protagonists of this first paragraph did not know the same destiny. The big defender (1.91 m for 90 kg) is about to beat this Sunday a world record against Turkey, on the synthetic of the picturesque Estadi Nacional of Andorra la Vella (3,306 places): that the longevity of an international footballer, previously held by Ecuadorian Ivan Hurtado (22 years and 143 days between his first and last selection, from 1992 to 2014).

"It's a source of pride because to stay so many years at a competitive level, it's an example of professionalism and love for this sport", comments 20 minutes the captain of the "Tricolors", 127 selections (national record) and 11 goals (another record).

Lima should have beaten Hurtado on Thursday in Albania. But, suspended, he attended from the stands to the feat of his own Tirana (2-2) and that of "Kiki" Martinez, author of the first doubled Andorran selection. See you soon 40 (December 10), the defender of the Inter Club d'Escaldes has learned to wait: "It's always better to celebrate at home, in front of the public, even if no celebration is planned . "

Andorra in full swing

A fireworks would not have been too much, for the rear center as for the team in general. Faced with a Turkish formation that had beaten only extreme accuracy in the first leg (1-0, goal in the 89th minute), Andorra is preparing to complete a qualifying phase for the historic Euro: first victory after 56 defeats in 56 games, on October 11 against Moldova (1-0), followed by this famous draw in Albania.

More generally, even if they have suffered against France (0-4 then
3-0), the mountaineers have signed more than honest services when they are brought back to their so small reservoir: a little more than 150 selectable among 76,500 inhabitants, including about 30,000 nationals.

"Now we want to win more games," said Lima, in no hurry to hang up. As long as I'm competitive, I will continue to play. Even if I believe that my "best before date" will arrive in one or two years. "By then, the defender who has crossed the world's top since the end of the last millennium (Zidane, both Ronaldo …) has time to improve its longevity record. But this is not his only goal: "I also want to help Inter Escaldes get a European qualification for the first time in its history. "

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