Ildefons Lima, who played for Andorra the most and scored the most goals in the team’s history, has decided to hang up his cleats after having the longest career in men’s international football.
Andorra fell to Switzerland 3-0 in a Euro 2024 qualifying match held in Sion on Tuesday. The defender, who is 43 years old, started the match as Andorra’s captain and came off the field after 23 minutes with the game still scoreless.
“The last day has arrived, 26 years since the first, 4 different decades… today, The Last Dance,” Lima tweeted on X, which was once known as Twitter. “Today, The Last Dance.”
The Welsh great Billy Meredith, whose first and last international caps were one day shy of 25 years apart, was surpassed by him in 2022 when he became the record holder for the longest men’s international career. He made his international debut at the age of 17, and he became the record holder in 2022.
Formiga, who played for Brazil’s women’s national team between 1995 and 2021, has the record for having the longest career in international competition.
“Congratulations to Andorra’s @ildelima6 on an incredible journey, the longest international career ever!”, tweeted the account. UEFA was written on X.
Lima leads Andorra in goals scored with 11, making him the team’s leading scorer.
His 137 appearances for his country resulted in more than 100 losses and six victories.
In November of 1996, Andorra participated in their first international competition. In June of the following year, Lima made his debut on the international stage.
In the year 2020, Lima gave an interview to the BBC in which he said, “It’s amazing because I have all the history of our national team.”
Lima began his career in club soccer with FC Andorra, which he later returned to play for. In the time in between, he played in the lower divisions of the Spanish, Italian, and Greek leagues, as well as the top divisions of the leagues in Mexico and Switzerland.
According to FIFA, Lima has collected over 900 shirts from their rivals and wears them as memorabilia.
“If you take a shirt from 24 years ago, when the national team started, and you take a shirt from now, you can see the difference in football,” he said to the BBC. “If you take a shirt from now, you can see the difference in football.”
“The progression of football over the years. It’s like taking a trip through the annals of football, and I just adore that about it.