Name: Mark Schwarzer
Born: Sydney, 06/10/1972
International Caps: 73
International Goals: 0
Previous clubs: Marconi Stallions, Dynamo Dresden, Kaiserslautern, Bradford City, Middlesbrough.
Signed: Free, 21/05/2008
Debut : v Hull City (a), 16/08/2008
Mark Schwarzer was one of Roy Hodgson’s most important signings in the summer of 2008 as he looked to reshape Fulham’s defence after the side managed to scrape Premier League survival by the skin of their teeth. Securing the Australian goalkeeper’s signature was something of a coup for the Whites as Schwarzer turned down offers from Bayern Munich and Juventus.
The big Aussie’s impact at Craven Cottage was immediate. He kept ten clean sheets in 2008/09 and took the Player of the Year award in his first season as Fulham finished in a club record seventh place, qualifying for the Europa League. His value to Hodgson was proven by the fact that he didn’t miss a single minute of league football throughout the campaign.
Schwarzer was already a household name in English football having had a spell at Bradford City before spending eleven years with Middlesbrough. Thrown straight into the deep end, he made his debut for Boro in the League Cup semi-final against Stockport, only to miss the final replay through injury. He made up for that disappointment in 2004 turning in a fine display as Middlesbrough beat Bolton to lift the trophy having overcome an early error.
Schwarzer had submitted a transfer request the following season, but changed his mind and was quickly back in the first team. A fractured cheekbone against West Ham looked to have ended his season the following year – and he missed the latter stages of Middlesbrough’s run to the UEFA Cup final – returning for the showpiece game against Sevilla, which Steve McClaren’s side lost 4-0. He became the longest serving foreign player in the Premier League at a single club when he played for Boro against Portsmouth in December 2007, beating Dennis Bergkamp’s mark of 315 matches.
Schwarzer made his international debut for Australia as a substitute against Uruguay in 1994 and made a name for himself by saving two second leg penalties as Australia progressed to a play-off against Argentina. He starred in the play-offs against Uruguay for the 2006 World Cup finals making several stops over the two legs and then saved two spot-kicks as the Aussies won the penalty shoot-out 4-2. He was dropped for Australia’s final group game after poor performances against Japan and Brazil, but was recalled as the Socceroos were unfortunate to be eliminated by a controversial Italian penalty in the second round.
Schwarzer played every minute in Australia’s serene progress to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – conceding a single goal in the dead rubber against Japan – and was awarded the Order of Australia in 2009.