Ildefons Lima He retired from the Andorran national team this Tuesday at the age of 43Be top scorer of the Andorra national team with 11 in the central defense position and with one Guinness record for the longest sporting career at national team level with a total of 26 years from 1997 to 2023.
His international career began on June 22, 1977 with a game against Estoniaand finished the September 12, 2023 in a qualifying game for the Euro 2024 against Switzerlandin Zion.
At 43 years, 8 months and 27 days, the central defender is the oldest footballer to ever take part in a national team game. As a striker he played 20 games in Switzerland. He left in tears applauding and hugging all of his teammates and the coaching staff.
Accompanied by his family, he gave up his international career. His wife and two daughters. “It was a very special day. Everything I experienced this week, with lots of videos, with lots of photos and then listening to the anthem. A lot of emotions, as is normal, and also the gratitude of people in general for representing a country after so many years. “You are very proud of the race you completed and regret the result.”
Ilde Lima has already played 136 games with his national team after being separated from the national team for two years by the Andorran Football Association (FAF). Lima has scored 11 of the 69 goals scored by the Andorran team since his international debut.
Between tears and being the starting center forward in the first 23 minutes and being replaced by Ricard Fernández, better known as “Cucu” (ND Bilje). “I’m very happy that I was able to retire with a great football atmosphere, it’s very exciting and a very nice feeling.. The whole family came, who have always supported me after so many years of football. Glad. There were very difficult moments when I wanted to say goodbye on the pitch and I did that. “I will keep the ball and the jersey in a special place and I will also take Xhaka’s jersey and his captain’s armband,” said the Andorran central defender.
With its controversial protocols, “Ilde” is the third player with the most games played in the Euro Cup standings This is equivalent to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 43 games. Only Jehle and Astafjevs have played more games than him.
Born in Barcelona on December 10, 1979, the player is still active as he has been playing for the second team since last year. FC Andorra in the third Catalan league.
He started his football career in FC Andorra and he also came through Barça’s youth teams. As a senior he was active in the Espanyol B and defended the shirts of Sant Andreu, Greek Ionikos, Mexican Pachuca, UD Las Palmas, Poli Ejido and Rayo Vallecano.
And then a more successful period in which Triestina played an important role in the Italian Serie B, adding four seasons with 87 games and one goal. After Italy he went to Switzerland to play for Bellinzona, with two seasons, 45 games and four goals. He returned to Triestina and from there I returned home to serve FC Andorra, FC Santa Coloma, Inter Club Escaldes and FC Andorra B until this season.
Ilde Lima’s last game as a national player was played at the Stade de Tourbillon in Sion and was part of the sixth matchday of Group I in the qualifying phase of the next European Cup. The Andorran central defender who played two seasons in the Bellinzona Swiss (2009-2011) was cheered by opposing fans and gradually received hugs from rivals and teammates. In fact, today the following message could be read on the Andorra national team jersey: “Thank you, Ilde”.
In total 137 games and 11 goals since his debut on June 22, 1997, when he was just 17 years old and playing for FC Andorra in the Spanish Second Division B. One of the last hugs on the field came from the coach Koldo Alvarez De Eulate. The Vitoria-born former goalkeeper currently has his son, who plays as a regular in the national team, Iker, the current goalkeeper of Villarreal B. Therefore, Ilde had the father and son of Alvarez De Eulate as partners. “We appreciate your many years of work and everything you have given us. It was a moment full of emotions in his last international match.“, assured the Andorra coach about Ilde Lima at the end of the game against Switzerland.
From debut in Estonia26 years have already passed since the goal. Four years ago, he surpassed the record of Ecuadorian Iván Hurtado, who wore his national team jersey for 22 years and 143 days.
He retired from his national team at the age of 43 and was a football legend in his country and also in world football. And everyone defended players like they did Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane, Luka Modric, Beckham, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé and Robert Lewandowski. A record of 6 wins, 21 draws and 110 defeats. Andorra lost 3-0 to Switzerland with second-half goals from Cedric Itten, Granit Xhaka and a penalty from Xherdan Shaqiri.
He achieved his first victory in 2000 against Belarus. It also overperformed Albania In 2002, San Marino in 2017, Hungary in 2017, Moldova in 2019 and Liechtenstein in 2022.
One of his most extraordinary games was against France, who later became world champions in 1998. In Saint Denis the game ended 2-0.
Meanwhile, Ilde Lima received congratulations from FIFA President Gianni Infantino on the Swiss leader’s Instagram: “Good luck on your final game, Ilde Lima, and best wishes for your next chapter“.