After turning down a new contract with Fulham, Australian international Mark Schwarzer has made the shortest of journeys to find a new club, signing for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea on a one year deal.
The 40 year old had previously stated he wished to concentrate primarily on Australia’s crucial World Cup qualifiers last month before making a decision on where his future would lie.
Schwarzer will provide a wealth of experience to the goalkeeping setup at Stamford Bridge but his first team appearances will be limited as he will primarily be a back-up to number one choice, Peter Cech.
The move comes as something of a surprise with no real public speculation linking the player with Chelsea. But clearly it suits the shot stopper who is firmly settled in London after his five year stay with Fulham.
Schwarzer’s senior career started with Marconni Stallions in Sydney before moving to Germany in 1994 to sign for Dynamo Dressden. After two years at the Saxony based club he joined Kaiserslauten in 1995, only to move a year later to England and to Bradford City.
After appearing 13 times at Valley Parade, he then made the switch to Middlesbrough in early 1997. It was at the Riverside Stadium that the 6ft 5in keeper really came to prominence and he went on to to appear 367 times for the club, becoming, in 2007, the Premier League’s longest serving foreign player at one club, bypassing Denis Bergkamp’s then record of 315 games.
When his contract in the North East ran out in 2008, Fulham were not long in moving for the player who had refused a new contract. It transpired that the player rejected moves from Juventus and Bayern Munich as they could not guarantee him first team football.
But at Craven Cottage this wouldn’t prove to be a problem for Schwarzer who would go on to make 170 appearances for the south London side. Such was the level of his displays during his tenure there that at one point Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was interested enough to make two bids, both of which were rejected by Fulham.
Following the arrival f Dutch international goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg this summer it was made clear by Schwarzer that he was going to leave, saying in June of Stekelenburg’s imminent arrival: “I’ve been hearing that for a while. It’s no great surprise and I’ll be looking for another club.”
He might not be the immediate first choice at his new club, but Chelsea can be comfortable in knowing that they have a vastly experienced goalkeeper in reserve if they need to call on him.