Australia’s number one goalkeeper, Mark Schwarzer, has been signed by English Premier League giants Chelsea FC on a one-year contract.
The 40 year-old was released by Fulham FC at the end of the 2012/13 season.
Schwarzer started his English career with Bradford City in 1996 before moving to Middlesborough, where he played 367 games over 11 years. He helped that club to its 2003 League Cup win and to the 2006 UEFA Cup final (ending in a loss to Sevilla).
In 2008 he transferred to Fulham, where he played 172 games, becoming the first Australian to reach over 500 games in England. In his first season at Craven Cottage, Schwarzer was voted Fulham’s player of the year.
His international career began in 1993 and is still alive. He had declared he would retire if Australia didn’t make the 2014 World Cup, but the Socceroos qualified and he looks set to represent Australia in Brazil.
Speaking of his decision to sign to Chelsea, Schwarzer said “he (manager Jose Mourinho) made it very easy to decide that Chelsea was the right club”.
“The size of the club, the ambition of the club and the opportunities at the club ticked all the right boxes. This is the opportunity to join one of the best clubs in the country, if not the world.”
But age is catching up, and it appears Schwarzer will play back-up to Chelsea’s existing first-choice keeper, Petr Cech. “I know that Petr is still number one, that goes without saying,” Schwarzer said. “He’s a fantastic goalkeeper.”
The news will have be a huge relief for Socceroos fans as it means Australia’s best keeper has a club and regular training and match fitness. – Blake Moretti
Top photo of Schwarzer being embraced by fans, from Flickr.