Disgraced former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich will play his first professional match in almost seven years in the A-League on Sunday.
Once the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world, the 36-year-old former Manchester United player will turn out for the Central Coast Mariners against Queensland Roar, having signed a seven-week deal with the Mariners.
His previous appearance in top-flight competition was for English Premier League side Chelsea in November 2001, before his career imploded following a failed drugs test and nine-month ban.
Bosnich replaces the suspended Danny Vukovic and wasn't making any bold predictions. "I'm humbly anticipating a game this week, and that's it," Bosnich said on Friday. "I don't really know what to expect. I'm very much looking forward to the game, I'm ready. It's a big game for us, we need a win and I'm confident we can get one."
The Mariners were beaten grand finalists last season, but have just one point from two games after losing to Sydney FC 3-2 last weekend. Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said Bosnich was ready to perform. "He's been around a long time and knows what to expect," McKinna said. "Mark has done everything asked of him at training and deserves this chance."
Bosnich has already been linked with expansion A-League side Gold Coast when it joins the competition next season. Former Socceroos coach Frank Farina, now in charge of the Roar, said this week a fit and in-form Bosnich could still play at international level. "Goalkeepers are a different breed to outfield players," Farina said.
"We saw Dino Zoff win a World Cup at 40, Mark needs time to get back into the rhythm and routine of football but he's still got it. I think once he's back in top condition and form there's no reason why he couldn't be regarded as one of the best in the league. He certainly commands the backline and organises the defence."