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Egypt's Ramzy puts retirement on hold

© Reuters 2002

By Mark Gleeson

BAMAKO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Hany Ramzy, the long-standing Egyptian defender, is considering continuing his international career with an eye on the record books at the next African Nations Cup finals in 2004.

The German-based 32-year-old had said he intended to retire from international soccer at the end of the current Nations Cup in Mali after Egypt's failure to qualify for the World Cup finals later in the year.

But now he has had a change of heart and says he will continue with the Egyptian side until the next Nations Cup finals in Tunisia.

Should Ramzy play in that tournament, he will equal Ivorian goalkeeper Alain Gouamene's record of seven Nations Cup finals appearances.

Ramzy, from German Bundesliga club Kaiserslautern, has played in every Nations Cup since 1992 in Senegal, and was a youthful member of the Egyptian side that played at the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy. "I had wanted to retire from the Egyptian side after the World Cup finals, but unfortunately we did not qualify," said Ramzy.

"Then I decided that if we won this Nations Cup tournament I would stop my international career, but if we didn't I would continue," he told Reuters.

Egypt were beaten 1-0 by Cameroon in the quarter-finals in Sikasso on Monday, a match which marked Ramzy's 119th international appearance.

Only compatriot Hossam Hassan, who played his 160th match for Egypt on Monday, has earned more caps in the history of African football.

Egypt's coach Mahmoud Al Gohari described Ramzi as a model player and a "great servant" to Egyptian football. "He got married just before the finals and he took some time off for the wedding and a little honeymoon, but after two days he was on the plane to Mali to compete for his country," he said.

"He has never complained about the taxing schedule of club versus country. He has always been available to play for the Egyptian team," said Al Gohari, who ended his own long-standing career with Egypt after Monday's elimination from the tournament in Mali.

Ramzi was first capped by Egypt in November, 1988, aged just 19 and played in the side that won the African championship in Burkina Faso four years ago.

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