Socceroo legend Mark Schwarzer has become the sixth recipient of the highest honour a player can receive – the Alex Tobin OAM Medal.
The retired Australian goalkeeper, still plying his trade with Chelsea in the English Premier League, joins the elite company of Socceroos past and present – the late Johnny Warren, Joe Marston, Craig Johnston, Mark Viduka and Frank Farina – as Tobin medallists.
The award was presented on Friday in Sydney by the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA).
Awarded to a player who has demonstrated four outstanding attributes: leadership, achievement as a player, commitment to one’s fellow professionals, and service and dedication to the game, the Socceroos’ record cap holder said it was a great honour to receive the players’ highest award.
“It was a surprise when I first was told. I feel extremely privileged to have joined some of the truly outstanding players,” said Schwarzer who made 109 appearances in the green and gold.
“This award means so much because it is from the players. When you play with the Socceroos for as long as I have, you form such close bonds so it is very humbling.
“When you are young, you think your career is going to last forever but it goes so quick and, when you have a chance like today to look back over it, you realise just how quickly it all goes.
“To look back now, I feel extremely proud of the progress Australian football has made, we have defied the odds and that is my message for the current Socceroos – keep proving people wrong.”
PFA President Simon Colosimo said it was fitting Schwarzer would take his place alongside the previous Tobin recipients.
“Mark will forever be remembered as one of the greatest Socceroos in history and was the unanimous choice of the players as the sixth recipient.
“On countless occasions, he has demonstrated that he is a world-class goalkeeper and none more so than in 2005 in the penalty shoot-out against Uruguay, which sealed the Socceroos’ place in the 2006 World Cup.”
Voted on by all A-League players, the Roar stars are joined in the 16-man squad by representatives from seven clubs, with three Adelaide United stars included, with the Reds’ Eugene Galekovic named as captain. There are two each from Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix.
Having become just the third coach to win the A-League premiership and championship double in the same season, Roar boss Mike Mulvey added to the Brisbane flavour by edging out last season’s winner Tony Popovic and Josep Gombau as coach of the team of the season.