Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Schwarzer: I Didn't Think Fulham Would Survive; Keeper Who Turned Down Juventus and Bayern Munich Admits Fulham's Form Has Taken Him by Surprise. by David Smith

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Schwarzer: I Didn't Think Fulham Would Survive; Keeper Who Turned Down Juventus and Bayern Munich Admits Fulham's Form Has Taken Him by Surprise. by David Smith

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

HAVING dismissed Fulham as Premier League no-hopers barely a year ago, Mark Schwarzer has revealed he is now pleased he was persuaded to become part of the club's remarkable revival that may yet see them qualify for Europe.

The summer signing of Schwarzer from Middlesbrough was just one of the astute moves made by manager Roy Hodgson that have transformed Fulham from being relegation fodder into consistent performers in the top half of the table.

The big Australian goalkeeper has been the bedrock of a defence that boasts the fourth best goals-conceded record in the league. And he was at his brilliant best on Saturday when successive point-blank saves from Ji-Sung Park and Wayne Rooney helped Fulham clinch a shock victory over Manchester United that blew the title race wide open.

While Boro are now struggling to beat the drop, Schwarzer and his new team-mates find themselves ninth -- just one point off the seventh place that will almost certainly earn a place in the new Europa Cup competition next season.

Schwarzer, who also considered offers to move to Bayern Munich and Juventus when he ended an 11-year association with Middlesbrough, puts his current good fortune down to the persuasive powers of Hodgson.

Still fit and agile at 36, he said: "Towards the end of last season most people were writing Fulham off, and I was one of them. Around February time, when I was at Boro, I remember thinking Fulham had no chance of surviving.

"But they created that amazing feat, staying up, and then, when I came down to speak Roy Hodgson, I realised he had plans, that he wanted to turn the club around and make them into a strong team and really look up towards the top half of the table.

"This season we've consolidated very well, we've played very good football and I think it's right we're in the position we're in. …

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