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Ecuador’s Ivan Hurtado was alone 17 if he played his aboriginal all-embracing match, a affable adjoin Guatemala in May 1992, an breach he apparent by scoring his aboriginal ambition for Fifa Mobile Coins. As notable as that admission was, not even he could accept absurd how important a bulk he would become in his country’s footballing history.
Not alone would he go on to win added caps for Ecuador than any added amateur – a abundant honour in itself – he would aswell breach the actualization almanac for FIFA Apple Cup? qualifying, arena 73 qualifiers in total. It is a almanac he still holds today, some 5 years afterwards he retired from the game.
Born in Esmeraldas, the arena that has produced abounding of the country’s finest players, Bam Bam – to accord Hurtado one of his nicknames – was admired as a badly able centre-half, accepting represented Ecuador at adolescence akin from 1988.
What is more, Hurtado’s goalscoring admission with the chief Tri ancillary came just two months afterwards his aboriginal top-flight airing with Emelec. The club abutting to his heart, the Guayaquil accouterments was the starting point of a career that spanned two decades and aswell saw him accomplish with acumen for clubs in Mexico, Spain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
A acclaimed affiliate of the bearing that assuredly took Ecuador to the Apple Cup, his role in the civic accession was far added important than his almanac of 168 caps. A role archetypal as a footballer, Hurtado aswell set a top accepted as a person.
It was for that absolute acumen that he captained La Tri for abounding years, arch his country out at Germany 2006, his additional apple finals, and earning the appellation of El Capi (‘Skipper’) for posterity.
Hurtado played his aboriginal apple finals qualifier a ages afore axis 19, adjoin Brazil in Guayaquil on 18 July 1993, advancing on as a acting for Johnny Carabli afterwards 66 minutes. He had angry 35 if he played his abide qualifier, adjoin Chile in Santiago on 14 October 2009.
Out of the 73 condoning matches he played in total, Hurtado started 65 and was on the adequate ancillary 28 times, with 18 of those matches catastrophe in draws and the absolute 27 in defeat. He denticulate just the one ambition in those qualifiers and was appointed on nine occasions, admitting never beatific off.
Eight of those appearances came in the condoning antagonism for USA 1994, 15 for France 1998, 17 for Korea/Japan 2002, 17 for Germany 2006 and 16 for South Africa 2010.
Following Hurtado in the best table are Paraguay’s Paulo da Silva, who is still playing, with 63 caps; Venezuela’s Juan Arango with 58; Peru’s Roberto Palacios with 57; and Honduras’ Noel Valladares and Uzbekistan’s Server Djeparov, who both accept 55 caps and counting.
“If I’d anytime anticipation that I was traveling to end up as the a lot of capped amateur of all time in the history of the qualifiers, afresh they would accept said I was crazy,” the record-breaking Hurtado told FIFA.com in September 2015.
“I just could not accept absurd that I would end up arena added matches than anyone in such a boxy competition,” he added. “I gradually came to accept what they were all about, what it meant to play in a qualifier and to get to the Apple Cup.
“What’s my clearest memory? The draws adjoin Uruguay that Fifa news and guides saw Ecuador ability their aboriginal two Apple Cups, in 2002 and 2006, the win adjoin Argentina in 2009, the draw with Brazil that aforementioned year, and the 5-2 win over Paraguay in 2005. Those amateur accept gone down in history and in the anamnesis of every Ecuador fan.
“I came up adjoin strikers who’d accomplish you pay for the aboriginal mistake, stars like Hernan Crespo, Dario Silva, Salvador Cabanas and Ronaldo, who was the best advanced I’ve anytime marked.
“The South American qualifiers are like the Apple Cup appear aboriginal because of the above of the teams and the players.”