Mark Schwarzer has revealed the desire to prove his critics wrong has been the driving force behind his stunning form this season. The Australian international goalkeeper admits he was angered at being written off in many quarters as past his best and lacking in ambition after joining Fulham from Middlesbrough 12 months ago.
But with the 36-year-old winning rave reviews for his displays in helping the London club to the brink of qualifying for Europe for only the second time in their history, Schwarzer believes he has answered the cynics in the best possible way. Schwarzer's impressive tally of 15 clean sheets this season means a draw in Fulham's final Premier League game of the season at home to Everton on Sunday will be enough to clinch seventh place and a Europa League slot.
The Sydney-born shotstopper revealed the extra motivation to maintain his high standards, and he said: "I just try and play as well as I can wherever it is, week-in, week-out. Not so long ago I was seen as being not up to it any more so to come back and play a good season, which is something I believed I could do, is very satisfying indeed."
Schwarzer, whose longer-term aim is to feature in next year's FIFA World Cup™ finals in South Africa, has played in every minute of Fulham's Premier League campaign this season. His fine form has seen him linked with moves to Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur, but the father-of-two insists he's happy to remain at Craven Cottage under manager Roy Hodgson.
Schwarzer's latest clean sheet arrived as he helped to shut out Mark Viduka's struggling Newcastle United to seal a 1-0 victory at St James' Park at the weekend. Having figured in successful relegation battles at Middlesbrough, Schwarzer is confident his Socceroos team-mate Viduka can help Newcastle climb out of the bottom three on the final day of the season and avoid dropping into the Championship.
He added: "I think Mark has got what it takes to make them safe. He is just a first class all-round player. Being down there is not a nice position to be in for any of the teams at the bottom. It affects not only the players and staff but the whole community.
"People spend lots of money on season tickets and they travel all over the country to watch and you know how it affects them. I've been there before and it's a difficult position to be in for them."