World Cup - Schwarzer dreams of third World Cup

Mark Schwarzer's release from Fulham this week may spell the end of the Australian's storied career in the English Premier League, but the 40-year-old goalkeeper would sooner regard it a speedhump on a road that ends at the World Cup finals in Brazil.

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World Cup - Schwarzer dreams of third World Cup
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Mark Schwarzer (AFP)

Schwarzer, who leaves Craven Cottage after five seasons to make way for 30-year-old Dutchman Maarten Stekelenberg, has no intention of leaving Australia's goalmouth nearly 20 years after his 1994 debut against Canada.

With two qualifying matches remaining to secure a third successive World Cup appearance, Schwarzer made it clear the younger generation of Australian keepers waiting in the wings would face an almighty fight to prise the gold jersey away from his vice-like grip.

"I've always said I'm living the dream. It's amazing," Schwarzer told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday in the leadup to the Socceroos' penultimate qualifier against Jordan on Tuesday.

"Sometimes you've got to pinch yourself, sometimes you've got to take a step back and think about what you're trying to accomplish.

"I've made it clear that for me Brazil is the end of the road. That's why whenever I'm asked by our manager if I want to rest, I always say 'no'.

"If the manager wants to rest me on his own merit then that's his decision and I accept that. But if I'm asked the question I'll always want to play."

Wins over Jordan at Melbourne's Docklands Stadium and Iraq in Sydney the following week will book Australia's ticket to Brazil, but Schwarzer would be unlikely to dwell on the achievement for too long.

The rangy keeper, who stamped himself as one of the EPL's top keepers in 11 seasons at Middlesbrough before crossing to Fulham, will hope to quickly nail down a starting role at another Europe-based club to keep match-fit and in favour with Australia coach Holger Osieck.

When the finals kicks off in a year's time, Schwarzer will be pushing 42 and only a few months' shy of Cameroonian striker Roger Milla's record (42 years, one month and eight days) as the oldest player to compete at a World Cup.

A role at Brazil would be a fitting swansong for Schwarzer's international career, having quite literally held Australia's World Cup hopes in his trusty hands.

Schwarzer wrote himself into sporting folklore Down Under when he made two saves in a penalty shootout against Uruguay in 2005 to secure Australia's ticket to the 2006 finals in Germany, and break a 32-year drought since the team's maiden World Cup appearance in 1974.

The Sydney-born keeper, who will win his 107th cap against Jordan, remains a reassuring presence in front of goal, and against a rampaging Japan earlier this week, was denied a clean sheet only by a hand-ball decision that gifted Keisuke Honda a spot-kick in injury-time.

In contrast to the fuss-free passage to the 2010 South Africa finals, Australia's performance in the last phase of Asian qualifying has been erratic, with a series of disappointing draws that have left the team's campaign delicately poised.

Schwarzer remains convinced, however, that the Socceroos, marshalled by an ageing defence which includes 35-year-old captain Lucas Neill and 34-year-old central defender Sasa Ognenovski, can book their tickets.

"My belief is that we're going to get to Brazil. I strongly believe it. We're quietly confident but we know it's going to be a massive task ahead of us," he said.

"We're in this position because we didn't perform as well as probably should have over the course of the last 12 months in various games, but the great thing about the situation we're in is that it's in our own hands.

"One thing you can say about the Socceroos is that we never stop trying."

Schwarzer wrote himself into sporting folklore Down Under when he made two saves in a penalty shootout against Uruguay in 2005 to secure Australia's ticket to the 2006 finals in Germany, and break a 32-year drought since the team's maiden World Cup appearance in 1972.

The Sydney-born keeper, who will win his 107th cap against Jordan, remains a reassuring presence in front of goal, and against a rampaging Japan earlier this week, was denied a clean sheet only by a hand-ball decision that gifted Keisuke Honda a spot-kick in injury-time.

In contrast to the fuss-free passage to the 2010 South Africa finals, Australia's performance in the last phase of Asian qualifying has been erratic, with a series of disappointing draws that have left the team's campaign delicately poised.

Schwarzer remains convinced, however, that the Socceroos, marshalled by an ageing defence which includes 35-year-old captain Lucas Neill and 34-year-old central defender Sasa Ognenovski, can book their tickets.

"My belief is that we're going to get to Brazil. I strongly believe it. We're quietly confident but we know it's going to be a massive task ahead of us," he said.

"We're in this position because we didn't perform as well as probably should have over the course of the last 12 months in various games, but the great thing about the situation we're in is that it's in our own hands.

"One thing you can say about the Socceroos is that we never stop trying."

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