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Nov 5, 2013

Schwarzer is still our best: Kewell

Mark Schwarzer is quitting international football while still Australia's best goalkeeper, says a shocked Harry Kewell.

Kewell joined a chorus of current and past Socceroos expressing surprise and paying tribute after Schwarzer, the country's most-capped player, declared his international retirement seven months out from the World Cup.

"I didn't see it coming," said fellow veteran Kewell, who's still hoping to earn a recall for the World Cup with his A-League performances this season.

"I still believe he's our best keeper.

"He's playing at one of the best clubs in the world, so there's no reason why he should have done it but it's a personal decision and I'm sure all the players will respect it."

Schwarzer's move comes despite being initially included in new coach Ange Postecoglou's squad for the friendly against Costa Rica in Sydney on November 19.

Postecoglou was at pains to point out Schwarzer had been selected and he praised the 41-year-old veteran of 109 Socceroos appearances over 20 years.

"I have the utmost respect for his decision and it is his decision," Postecoglou said.

"He is no doubt one of the all-time greats for the Socceroos ... a great servant who always made himself available for the national team, sometimes under trying circumstances.

"He is an absolute icon of the game."

Longtime Socceroos teammate Tim Cahill believed Schwarzer had made a selfless gesture to stand aside and allow Australia's bevy of talented younger keepers clear air to advance their claims.

"He's called it a day and players make up their own mind. Whether it's the right time, no one knows," said Cahill.

"But the best thing is he's all class. The way he's done it is exceptional.

"I feel Schwarzer's seen the talent and he's probably thought 'You know what, the kids are ready' and he stepped aside.

"It shows the true mark of a man that he can do what he's done today, hang up his boots or gloves from playing internationally."

Former Socceroos striker John Aloisi said Australian football was indebted to Schwarzer who was "up there with the all-time great Socceroos players.

"What a great goalkeeper he was for the national team - what a great career. We owe him a lot."

FFA boss David Gallop was also taken by surprise by Schwarzer's decision and said a tribute to honour his service to the game would be arranged in due time.

"He embodied the pride and passion of the Socceroos' jersey," Gallop said.

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