Fulham Greats #2 - Mark Schwarzer: The Goalkeeper

Fulham Greats #2 - Mark Schwarzer: The Goalkeeper

Ahead of Fulham's return to the Premier League and their endeavour to re-establish top-flight status, we look back at legends who were able to call Craven Cottage their home, with part two showcasing Aussie goalie backbone of the team, Mark Schwarzer.

Jakub Bobro

In the goalkeeping stakes, few came close to beating Mark Schwarzer between the sticks on the Thames.

The legendary Australian goalkeeper served Fulham for five years towards the end of his career, leaving at 40 years old. His age didn’t stop him from being back-up for the Cottagers' main rivals Chelsea however, for the next two seasons before spending his last year at Leicester City and retiring at 42 in 2016.

Despite playing for a rival, Schwarzer remains a legend at Craven Cottage, with his 18-year-old son Julian starting his hopeful goalkeeping career at the Fulham Academy.

Declined Bayern and Juve, Came To Fulham

Schwarzer came to Fulham from Middlesbrough on a free transfer after a ten-and-a-half year spell.  His time at The Boro ended after he refused a contract extension from Gareth Southgate, so his last match for them was the 8-1 thrashing of Manchester City.

Aged 35, Schwarzer signed a two-year deal with Fulham, but later admitted in an interview with The Guardian that the west London club had beaten "competition from a number of high-profile European clubs", such as Bayern Munich and Juventus, but chose Fulham instead as he had a guaranteed starting berth there.

Tough Debut, Great Debut Season

Schwarzer made his debut in a Fulham kit against newly-promoted Hull City, losing 1-2. However, Schwarzer became more sure between the sticks and the system of then-manager Roy Hodgson worked wonders!

Fulham finished 7th, their highest-ever finish in Premier League history, made the quarterfinals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2003-2004. It would be an understatement to say that it was an incredible season for Schwarzer and Fulham, as the Australian's contributions got recognized by his club as he was named Fulham Player of the Season.

Brink of European glory

Seventh place finish guaranteed Fulham a spot in the third qualifying round of Europa League, where they thrashed Lithuanian side Vetra 3-0 both home and away, Schwarzer keeping a clean sheet on both occasions.

The final qualifying round was much tougher, facing Amkar Perm of Russia. Fulham looked great at home, winning 3-1, but lost the away match 1-0, going through 3-2 on aggregate. Mark Schwarzer really held Fulham up, as he pulled of 10 saves out of 11 Amkar's shots on target, allowing Fulham's journey to continue to the group stages.

Fulham got through Group E with 11 points, just 2 ahead of third-placed FC Basel and two behind AS Roma. The West London side earned seven of their 11 points at home, with Schwarzer letting in only one goal at Craven Cottage.

The knockout stages run had its ups and downs for Fulham, going down 1-3 to Juventus after the first leg of Round of 16, but winning the second 4-1.

Fulham went on to defeat German teams  VfL Wolfsburg and Hamburg, Schwarzer letting in just one goal in each of the two-legged matches, before finally falling to Atletico Madrid in the final.

Schwarzer also became the first Australian to win Premier League Player of the Month in February 2010, conceding only one goal in four matches.

Left at 40

Schwarzer spent three more season at Craven Cottage before leaving in the summer of 2013 following the arrival of Maarten Stekelenburg from Roma.

The Australian may have been over 40, but that didn't stop him from joining the West London rivals Chelsea for two seasons before retiring with Leicester City during their Premier League Championship season in 2015-2016.

Though he didn't make a single league appearance for either club, Mark Schwarzer became the first player to win consecutive championships with different clubs since Eric Cantona.