After 26 years and 137 caps, Ildefons Lima played his last game for Andorra – ending the longest career in international football.
The 43-year-old made his Andorra debut at the age of 17 in a 4-1 defeat to Estonia in 1997, scoring in the country’s second official game.
He has played every decade since and on Tuesday he started his last international match, a 3-0 loss to Switzerland.
After 23 minutes he was replaced and given a standing ovation by the Swiss and Andorran supporters when he left the field.
He was replaced by Ricard Fernandez Betriu, a teammate who was born almost two years after his international debut.
In 2021, Guinness World Records claimed that Lima had achieved the longest international playing career.
Before the match against Switzerland, Lima called the fixture “the last dance” in an X postformerly known as Twitter.
Lima captained Andorra more than a decade ago, representing a country with a population of just 79,000.
He lost more than 100 international matches. The Tricolors have won just seven competitions, the most recent being a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein in 2022 in the Nations League.
The centre-back is the third European footballer to be capped in four different decades, joining Welsh international Billy Meredith and Finland’s Jari Litmanen.
And this summer he became the oldest player to appear in a UEFA European Championship qualifier.
Lima is also Andorra’s record goalscorer, finding the net 11 times. Back in 2014 his sixth-minute penalty gave Andorra a shock lead against Wales before Gareth Bale’s two strikes helped Chris Coleman’s side to victory.
He also scored the opener in a 3-1 loss to the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup qualifier in Dublin in 2001.
In 2020, the Andorran Football Federation dropped him from the squad he later called for more Covid-19 testing for players.
After pressure from manager Koldo Alvarez and FIFpro he returned to the side the following year.
At club level he has represented Espanyol, Las Palmas and Rayo Vallecano in Spain, and currently plays for FC Andorra B owned by ex-Spain defender Gerard Pique.