Schwarzer set for more Aussie milestones

Milestones are becoming part and parcel for Mark Schwarzer on the national team front in the past year and against Uzbekistan on April 1 at the ANZ Stadium, he is set to create a few more.

Milestones are becoming part and parcel for Mark Schwarzer on the national team front in the past year and against Uzbekistan on April 1 at the ANZ Stadium, he is set to create a few more.

After recently becoming the most capped goalkeeper and keeping the most number of clean sheets by a keeper for the Socceroos, Schwarzer is set to overtake Tony Vidmar as the longest serving player for Australia.

His appearance against Uzbekistan marks 15 years 244 days since Schwarzer made his senior international debut, against Canada in a FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier in Edmonton on 31st July 1993. The Sydney-born keeper will pass Vidmar by just one day, who played for the Socceroos from 6 February 1991 to 7 October 2006.

In addition, the next time Schwarzer makes an appearance for the Socceroos, he will become the equal fifth-highest all-time appearance maker for the Australian senior men-s national team, level on A-international appearances (65) with legendary Socceroos captain Peter Wilson who captained Australia at the 1974 FIFA World Cup™.

Also, should the Socceroos go for 71 minutes without conceding against Uzbekistan, a new Australian record for the longest period of time without conceding a goal in FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers would be set, with Schwarzer in goals for every minute so far.

Leading into the FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier against Uzbekistan, the Socceroos have gone 439 minutes without conceding a goal in FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers - the last FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier goal scored against the Socceroos was by China in the 11th minute of their 22 June 2008 encounter. Currently Australia-s record for not conceding in FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers stands at 509 minutes, which was set between 1997 & 2001.

Schwarzer was unaware of the impending milestones and until told a few days ago, but was obviously delighted to achieve this significant.

“It-s very nice to accomplish these sort of milestones, especially in this important game against Uzbekistan,” Schwarzer, said from his home in London.

“As a kid you always dreamed to play for your country first and foremost and having done that at a pretty early age at 19, it had to sink in.

“Secondly the next big step was to go overseas and try to establish myself, which took time. Once I did that I was always quietly confident in my own ability that I would go on and continue to represent Australia and hopefully help Australia to qualify for a World Cup.

“You-ve got to have these dreams; these aspirations and I was no different to every other guy that played for the green and gold and I have just been very fortunate to be part of a squad that has done it and hopefully we can claim to have made two World Cup-s in a row.”

Not only has Schwarzer been in sensational form for Australia, but he has one of the main factors in Fulham Athletic being placed in the top 10 of the English Premier League for much of the season.

His 10 clean sheets for Fulham puts him in the top bracket of keepers this season in the EPL, although that has been no different from the previous decade, where he has been one of the most highly keepers.

“I have been happy; it-s gone reasonably well for me,” he said of his form this season. “We-ve had a hiccup with the last couple of league games with Fulham and it hasn-t been as nice as we would have liked it to have been, but these things happen.

“We-ve got 10 games to go and we are very confident that first and foremost we can make sure that we stay in the Premier League and secondly move up the table as much as possible.

“From an international point of view, so far, I must say, pretty good. But we are not going to get complacent; not get arrogant about anything; not get too carried away with the situation and I-m only going to celebrate once we qualify and that-s my number 1 goal, qualify for the World Cup and make sure at club level we are successful at Fulham as well.

Schwarzer believes the move to Fulham during the off-season has helped his form and given him the challenge he needed after a decade with Middlesbrough.

“For me, it-s been a great move, it really has,” he said rather enthusiastically. “It-s like a breath of fresh air for me; I-ve felt very, very good both physically and mentally and I think that things have gone reasonably well for me this season.

“I just want to improve year after year if I possibly can and as long as I have the aspirations and desire to get going and I-m performing well enough, I want to continue it (career).

Asked if we had seen the best of him, given his 37 years of age, Schwarzer viewed it somewhat differently.

“I hope not; I hope I continue to get better. I always look to improve day in, day out; I work hard on the training field and also when I-m playing, you look to improve with every game and I hope first and foremost I am doing that and can continue to do so.”

You can be part of history and help Schwarzer celebrate this tremendous achievement and also see the Socceroos take a step closer to qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased from Ticketek.

LONGEST CAREER SPANS, AUSTRALIA (A-INTERNATIONALS) as at 31-Mar-2009 15y 243d Tony Vidmar (06-02-91 to 07-10-06) 15y 195d Mark Schwarzer (31-07-93 to 11-02-09) 14y 057d Zeljko Kalac (11-08-92 to 07-10-06) 13y 257d Craig Moore (21-06-95 to 05-03-09) 13y 221d Paul Trimboli (03-12-88 to 12-07-02) 13y 175d Stan Lazaridis (15-04-93 to 07-10-06) 13y 123d Steve Corica (15-04-93 to 16-08-06) 13y 043d Mark Viduka (08-06-94 to 21-07-07) 12y 213d Paul Okon (06-02-91 to 07-09-03) 12y 210d Harry Kewell (23-04-96 to 19-11-08)

TOP TEN APPEARANCES, AUSTRALIA (A-internationals) as at 31-Mar-2009 87 Alex Tobin (1988-1998) 84 Paul Wade (1986-1996) 76 Tony Vidmar (1991-2006) 69 Brett Emerton (1998-) 65 Peter Wilson (1970-1979) 64 Mark Schwarzer (1993- ) 61 Atti Abonyi (1967-1977) 60 John Kosmina (1976-1988) 60 Stan Lazaridis (1993-2006) 59 Milan Ivanovic (1991-1998)

Period without conceding a goal - commencement and completion times: 29/11/1997 - Australia v Iran - Azizi (IRN) 75- 24/06/2001 - Australia v New Zealand - Coveny (NZL) 44- (pen)