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Hammer Down Under: Fulham and Australia must plan for post-Schwarzer life

14:06 05 October 2012

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer picks up a bird on the pitch. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer picks up a bird on the pitch. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Our West Ham blogger takes a trip to Craven Cottage to watch an Australian legend

About our blogger

Name: Matt Rossleigh

Twitter handle: @Matt_Rossleigh

Regular attendee living in London this year from Australia

Favourite player: Mark Noble

Most memorable game: 2012 Championship Playoff Final

Predicted Finish: Mid-table

With West Ham given the weekend off by Sky broadcasters I thought I would head down to Fulham at home to Manchester City to get my Saturday football fix.

As I jumped off the tube at Putney Bridge and made the ten minute stroll through the park to the old, boutique ground I could hear some fans from afar singing, “One Mark Schwarzer!”

It had me thinking, Mark has been an outstanding keeper for club and country for two decades but for how long will there only be one Mark Schwarzer?

The Australian will celebrate his 40th birthday tomorrow but for how long can he still play at the top level.

Schwarzer, whose parents emigrated down under from Germany, earns the right to still be first choice at club and country but should both managers be putting in contingency plans for when the Australian calls it a day?

In David Stockdale Fulham manager Martin Jol has a more than capable replacement with the 27 year old impressing when standing in for the Australian and has even been called up to previous England squads.

The same goes at national team level with Adam Federici from Reading waiting in the wings to become the first choice keeper for the Socceroos.

Federici has already made seven caps for his country and replaced Schwarzer at half time in the August friendly with Scotland at Easter Road.

It won’t be long before Australia manager Holger Osieck has a selection headache on whom to give the number one shirt to – especially if the Socceroos’ poor World Cup qualifying form continues.

From three games so far Australia has yet to post a victory, with two draws and one goal with a daunting trip to the Middle East to face Iraq next week.

Schwarzer can take American Brad Friedel as a source of inspiration though, as the 41 year old is still the number one choice at Tottenham Hotspur despite the signing of French international Hugo Lloris.

The Australian will see the Asian Cup on home soil in 2015 as a possible swansong after hopefully guiding the Socceroos to the World Cup finals in Brazil a year earlier.

By that point the goalkeeper will be almost 43 years old and it remains to be seen as to whether Schwarzer will still be at the top of his game

That’s why it’s this blogger’s opinion that both Jol and Osieck should have plans in place for the next shot stopper to step in – even some of the best players have to retire at some point.

It is no disrespect to the great man who has impressive for many years in the Premier League, in Europe as well as at two World Cups.

He is already down in Australian folklore for his two saves in the penalty shootout against Uruguay to guide Australia to the World Cup finals in Germany for the first time in 32 years.

On Saturday against Manchester City the Australian pulled off a number of fine saves against an attacking force but both club and country need to be ready for the great man to retire.

For the time being the veteran shows no sign of doing that.

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