Shock as Schwarzer retires from Socceroos

06 November 2013 05:46

Veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Australia's most-capped player ever, on Wednesday announced his retirement from international football, with teammates expressing shock at the decision.

The 41-year-old had appeared set for a swansong at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but informed Football Federation Australia on Wednesday morning that he was quitting with immediate effect.

Currently the back-up keeper to Petr Cech at Chelsea, Schwarzer played 109 times for Australia since his debut in 1993.

But his recent move from being Fulham's first-choice gloveman to playing second fiddle to Cech raised questions as to whether he would be able to hold onto his starting role in the national team.

His decision to retire came just hours before new Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou announced his first squad since taking over from the sacked Holger Osieck, and it initially included Schwarzer.

"Mark has been a tremendous servant for the national team," said Postecoglou.

"He is our most capped Socceroo, has been one of our best performers over a long period of time and he has always remained passionate about playing for Australia.

"I know the Australian football community will join me in paying tribute to Mark for everything he's done for the Socceroos."

Long-time Socceroos teammate Tim Cahill said he was shocked at the decision and hoped he stayed involved in some way as a mentor.

The former Everton stalwart said he only found out when the news became public.

"It's incredible. I feel it's a massive surprise from someone that I've looked up to my whole career," Cahill told Fox Sports News from New York, where he plays for the Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.

"He's one of the greatest ambassadors to ever play the game, but most importantly a true gentlemen on and off the park.

"It's a truly shocking night here in New York for me."

Asked whether he thought Schwarzer had called time on his international career too soon, Cahill said it was difficult to say.

"He's called it a day and players make up their own mind. Whether it's the right time, no one knows," he said, adding that it appeared to be a selfless gesture to allow Australia's young goalkeepers the chance to establish themselves before the World Cup.

"I feel Schwarzer's seen the talent and he's probably thought 'You know what, the kids are ready' and he stepped aside."

Another ex-Premier League star Harry Kewell said he believes Schwarzer is still the best goalkeeper Australia has.

"I didn't see it coming. I still believe he's our best keeper," said the former Liverpool striker.

"He's playing at one of the best clubs in the world, so there's no reason why he should have done it but it's a personal decision and I'm sure all the players will respect it."

His international retirement opens the door to a number of talented goalkeepers vying to make the World Cup squad, including Borussia's Dortmund's Mitch Langerak and Brugge's Mathew Ryan.

The Sydney-born Schwarzer has been arguably Australia's most consistent and highest profile European club performer, representing Dynamo Dresden, FC Kaiserslautern, Bradford City, Middlesbrough, Fulham and Chelsea over a 19-year career.

He has made more than 500 English Premier League appearances so far to be eighth on the all-time list, which is headed by Ryan Giggs.

Source: AFP

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