Mark Schwarzer forces a rewrite of the record books just about every time he takes the field these days.
The retired Socceroos keeper did it again on Saturday, becoming Chelsea’s oldest ever Premier League player, but in the process figured in a piece of history he’ll want to forget.
The 41-year-old Australian’s top flight debut for the English heavyweights ended in a nightmare as a 2-1 defeat to Sunderland ended Jose Mourinho’s remarkable 77-match unbeaten home run as Chelsea boss.
Schwarzer, Australia’s most capped international and the first player outside the UK to amass 500 Premier League appearances, was handed his 505th top flight start after first-choice gloveman Petr Cech came down with a virus.
But having done a fine job for the club in cup competitions, it was an off day for one of Australian football’s finest exports.
While Schwarzer could not be solely blamed for the defeat he was at fault as Sunderland cancelled out a Samuel Eto’o opener in the first half, the Australian spilling a long-range shot into the path of Connor Wickham.
Schwarzer was put in the firing line again in the 81st minute when Cesar Azpilicueta was penalised for sliding in on Jozy Altidore.
Fabio Borini calmly beat Schwarzer from the penalty spot to secure victory in a crushing blow to Chelsea’s title hopes.
With Cech expected to return in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid, Schwarzer may have played the final match of his one-year contract – and possibly his illustrious career.
Schwarzer, a veteran of 109 Socceroos caps and a vital figure in Australia’s qualification for three straight World Cups, announced his international retirement in November.
He joined Chelsea in July last year after being released by Fulham, where he made 172 appearances.
Prior to that he spent almost a decade at Middlesbrough.
In taking the field on Saturday, Schwarzer (41 years and 195 days) became the club’s oldest ever player by some margin, overtaking Graham Rix (37 years and 203 days).