Schwarzer's Finest Socceroos Moments

Dan Colasimone@@ArgentinaFWContributor INovember 7, 2013

Schwarzer's Finest Socceroos Moments

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    The most capped Socceroo of all time, Mark Schwarzer, this week announced his retirement from international football at the age of 41.

    The reliable goalkeeper played a total of 109 times for his country in a career that spanned five World Cup qualifying campaigns and two tournaments proper.

    Staving off competition from other fine custodians such as Mark Bosnich and Zeljko Kalac, the Sydney native proved time and time again that national coaches were justified in selecting him as their No. 1.

    In his 20 years of service for Australia, Schwarzer made the difference on countless occasions. 

    Here are some of his most memorable moments.

Debut Against Canada

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    A lanky haired Schwarzer made his debut for his country back in 1993, and he was soon showing the kind of match-winning ability that would set the template for the rest of his international career.

    In the second leg of a World Cup playoff tie against Canada, the 21-year-old rookie sent his country through to the next round of qualifying with a stunning penalty shoot-out save.

    Australia would eventually fall to Diego Maradona's Argentina and miss the Cup, but there was plenty more to come for their promising young shot-stopper.

Schwarz Thwarts China

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    Australia's hopes of qualifying for a second straight World Cup tournament looked in peril when China were awarded a late penalty in the match between the sides in March 2008.

    But guess who was there to save the day? That man again.

Valuable Veteran

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    Looking anything but assured throughout their Brazil 2014 qualifying campaign, Australia were rescued time and time again by their veteran custodian.

    Barely a game went by without Schwarzer being required to put in an outstanding display, as the Socceroos eventually scraped home with a late goal against Iraq in their final match.

    One of the keepers' best performances came against Japan in Saitama, in a game where the hosts were expected to romp to victory.

    A determined defensive display, led by the No. 1, saw Australia nearly sneak a win. A late penalty for Japan ensured the final result was a 1-1 draw, but without Schwarzer, things could have been much worse for the men in green and gold.

Heroics Against Uruguay in 2005

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    It is a moment that no Aussie sports fan will ever forget, but the story could have been so different.

    As extra time wound down in the second leg of the final play-off game between Australia and Uruguay for a spot in the 2006 World Cup, Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink ordered his giant reserve goalkeeper, Kalac, to start warming up on the sidelines.

    Scores over the tie were locked at 1-1 and a penalty shoot-out loomed. The Dutch master tactician figured the imposing figure of Kalac would stand a better chance of repelling the Uruguayans and was about to bring him on, only for the fittest player on the pitch, Brett Emerton, to break down with severe cramps.

    Emerton could not continue, and Guus was forced to use his last substitution to bring him off, meaning Schwarzer was the man tasked with protecting Australia's net.

    The rest is history. Schwarzer saved brilliantly, not once but twice. John Aloisi made no mistake with the deciding kick, and Australia had qualified for their first World Cup in 32 years.