Schwarzer stunned with double success

Qantas Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was stunned to be the big winner at the inaugural Australian Football Awards held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney on Thursday night.

Qantas Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was stunned to be the big winner at the inaugural Australian Football Awards held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney on Thursday night.

Schwarzer took home the Male Footballer of the Year, as well as the Football Media Association Australian International Player of the Year awards, a huge achievement and recognition for the season the 36 year old has had for Fulham Athletic and the national team over the past year.

Not only was Schwarzer-s double swoop at the Awards night one for the ages, but it went against the grain, where normally these awards are won by strikers or attacking midfielders.

“It-s a first for me, so it-s nice,” said a fairly stunned Schwarzer after receiving his award for the Footballer of the Year.

“I would never have dreamt that I would be in this position that I am right now.

“I-ve always believed in my own ability and that I could continue to play at the highest level, so to get this sort of recognition is beyond all expectations and I am truly honoured to receive this award.”

Schwarzer conceded less than a goal a game for Fulham in the English Premier League (34 goals in 38 appearances) and kept 15 clean sheets, which was third-highest in the league. It helped Fulham to their best ever season in the EPL and earned them a place in next season-s Europa Cup for the first time.

His move from Middlesbrough in the off-season proved a godsend, with Boro relegated on the final day of the season.

“At Fulham there were a lot of acquisitions in the off-season, I was one of eight new players and everyone of us has gelled in really well and played some great football.

“We-ve got a fantastic manager there and its been very easy for me to play good football and I am enjoying it as much as ever.

“It-s sad to see a club like Middlesbrough go down, especially after having such an affiliation with them for a such a long period of time.

Schwarzer broke all sorts of records this season, topping the list for the number of appearances in the national team by a goalkeeper and also becoming the longest serving Socceroo player of all time, since making his debut in 1993.

His form for the Qantas Socceroos is even more impressive, with not a single goal conceded in seven World Cup Round 4 qualifying matches, which has been the catalyst for Australia making its second consecutive World Cup finals next year.

“It-s a complete shock; I wasn-t expecting it at all,” he said after being awarded the FMA Australian International Player of the Year Award.

“These sorts of awards are very special.

“To be recognised by the journalists, who obviously watch a lot of football and followed you for a long time during your career, it-s nice to have their recognition.”

Asked how long he feels he can keep playing for, Schwarzer honestly doesn-t know, although he did rule going onto 2014, not because he didn-t necessarily want to, but more his wife would probably ‘kill- him he said jokingly. He also didn-t rule out a move to the Hyundai A-League, with Schwarzer entering the final year of a two-year deal at Fulham, although its believed that an offer to extend his contract is on the table.

“When you get to my age you just take it year to year,” he says with a laugh.

“I fell really good; mentally I fell very, very good, physically I feel strong and I am enjoying my football more than I ever have and as long as I feel this way, I want to keep going.

“My goal after the last World Cup was to play on to 2010 at the very least; hopefully at the World Cup with thankfully we-ve accomplished that.

“Hopefully I can stay fit, play well enough to be involved in the World Cup finals and then we-ll see what happens after that.

Schwarzer praised the initiative of the Awards night, saying it was unique to combine the two elements of the game together on one big night.

“I think it-s imperative for the game in this country to recognise, not only today-s players in the national team and players in the a-league, but also people from grassroots, people who give their lives for football.

“It-s an amazing sense of accomplishment I think for people who work most of their lives towards running football clubs and who put there whole heart and soul into it.

“These people need to be applauded and recognised.

“These awards need to continue into the future and hopefully people will look forward to them and hold them in very high regard.”