DAD COOL AS MARK SAVES BEST ?TIL LAST
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
SOCCEROO goalkeeping hero, Mark Schwarzer, was the calmest man on the field as he made two dramatic penalty shootout saves to send Australia to the 2006 World Cup finals on Wednesday night.
And there's no doubting who was the calmest man in the grandstands of Telstra Stadium.
Schwarzer's father, Hans-Joachim, had supreme confidence that his son would perform well in the football equivalent of Russian roulette.
"I had confidence in his penalty saves," Mr Schwarzer said yesterday, as he was driving back to his Toormina home after the most glorious evening in the history of Australian football.
"He's very good at saving goals and that's what happened luckily enough."
It must be a Schwarzer family trait to have ice running through your veins but Hans-Joachim admitted there was one stage when he was worried that his son could make an error.
"In the last 10 minutes I was very worried," the proud father said.
"Not because the team was playing badly but I was hoping that Mark wouldn't concede any silly goals."
When John Aloisi kicked the final penalty goal that propelled the Socceroos towards Germany, 2006, the family patriarch again showed that he can remain calm in any situation.
"I didn't get over excited even when he made those saves," he said.
"I'm not the type of person to go over the moon or go bananas but when the game finished there were people going crazy and people I didn't know were jumping all over me."
Given time to reflect on the event, and the large part that his son played in it, Hans-Joachim was understated in his appraisal of his son's performance as well as hide his pride in his achievement.
"Overall I was happy that he did what he had to do. He didn't have to do too much really, only made a couple of high saves."
Hans-Joachim attended the post-match function but said he spent very little time with his son, who was too busy with everybody else who was there.
"I would say at this stage that I will go to Germany for the World Cup and that will probably be the next time that I see him," Mr Schwarzer said.
The goalkeeping hero has already boarded a plane back to England for his club Middlesbrough's home fixture against Fulham this weekend.