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Australian shot-stopper Mark Schwarzer finally ended months of speculation by leaving the Riverside, where he was long-term Middlesbrough No.1, and signing on at Craven Cottage.

Boro boss Gareth Southgate offered him a new contract, but the 35-year-old admits that after 11-years on Teesside, it was time for a new challenge.

Indeed, on paper there’s no bigger challenge than playing for Fulham, who have hung onto their Premier League status by fingernails for the last couple of seasons.

Taking time out from the launch of his new children’s book, Schwarzer laughed: “I suppose I’ll be like a new kid at school.

“I’m excited about it and it’s something that I really needed to do. I think it’s a great opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to the challenge. I can’t wait for pre-season to start.”

Schwarzer previously claimed that he’d held talks with Bayern Munich and Juventus, but opted for Craven Cottage after gaffer Roy Hodgson guaranteed him a starting berth.

However, his involvement with the Aussie national side could lead him to the Beijing Olympics this summer. The veteran has been widely tipped to fill one of the ‘over-age’ spots on the U-23 side’s tournament roster.

On the possible dilhemma, Schwarzer added: “The Olympics is an unbelievable event to be part of. I’ve never been part of it before and it would be very difficult to say no.

“[But pre-season with Fulham is] obviously something that you’ve got to take into consideration, without a doubt, and it’s not an ideal scenario.

“As it stands at the moment there’s nothing being said [by the club] and I just go about starting pre-season at Fulham on the 12th of July.

“It’s one of those situations that it’s obviously been spoken about in the media quite a bit, with speculation about who the over-age players are going to be, (but) the Australia manager, Graham Arnold, needs to decide on who he’d like to bring in.”