SYDNEY (Reuters) - Veteran Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has retired from international football, despite having hoped to crown his career with a final World Cup appearance with the Socceroos in Brazil.
The 41-year-old retires as the most capped player for his country with 109 international appearances and will be forever remembered Down Under for his crucial saves in a penalty shootout against Uruguay that helped the Socceroos book their ticket to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Reserve keeper for Premier League side Chelsea, news of Schwarzer's retirement broke hours before Australia's new coach Ange Postecoglou named his first squad for a friendly against Costa Rica on November 19.
Schwarzer had long spoken of hoping to bow out with a third consecutive World Cup appearance but was omitted for recent friendlies against France and Canada after a nightmare 6-0 loss to World Cup hosts Brazil.
Postecoglou said he had initially named the former Bradford City, Middlesbrough and Fulham keeper in his squad.
"Mark was included in this squad but decided he wanted to announce his retirement and not participate," Postecoglou told reporters in Sydney.
"I've got the utmost respect, firstly for his decision and secondly it would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to him.
"He's no doubt one of our all-time greats. A great servant, always available to play for his national team, sometimes under difficult circumstances.
"When we talk about character and restoring pride to our national shirt, Mark is right up there."
Borussia Dortmund keeper Mitchell Langerak, who had a harrowing debut in a 6-0 loss to France last month, is expected to succeed Schwarzer with Belgium-based Mat Ryan his backup.
Long-serving Socceroos team mate Tim Cahill paid tribute to the Sydney-born Schwarzer, who was a safe pair of hands throughout Australia's Asian qualifying campaign for Brazil.
"I feel like it's a massive surprise. He's someone that I've looked up to my whole career and been on a journey with him through World Cups, Asian Cups and qualifying," Cahill told local broadcaster Fox Sports.
"He's one of the greatest ambassadors to have ever played the game."
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford