Thursday, 12 December 2013 9:10 AM
Recently retired Australian international goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer added a little piece of history to his illustrious career when he became the oldest debutant in the UEFA Champions League this morning.
Schwarzer was given the nod in goals for Chelsea at the age of 41 years and 66 days, as they defeated Hungarian outfit Steaua Bucuresti 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to top Group E in Europe’s elite competition.
The Chelsea goalkeeper was largely untroubled throughout the contest on the final matchday of the group stage. He was only called upon to make his first meaningful save in injury time, with an early Demba Ba goal enough to give the 2012 Champions maximum points.
Only Marco Ballotta, who featured for Lazio against Real Madrid five years ago to the day when he was 43 years and 252 days old, has appeared in the Champions League at an older age. The result also means Schwarzer is yet to concede a goal in his three appearances for the Blues.
While Jose Mourinho’s men should have won by more after Ba got on the end of a Chelsea corner in the tenth minute, Schwarzer had to be on his game only minutes later to deny Gabriel Iancu. The Chelsea keeper was quickly off his line to force the Romanian to shoot wide from a one-on-one situation.
The result means the Blues topped their group, taking 12 points from their six matches to finish ahead of FC Schalke. They will join English sides Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal in next week’s draw for the knockout phase of the competition.
Schwarzer, who earned a record 109 caps for Australia, joined Chelsea on a free transfer at the end of last season. The Aussie legend reached the UEFA Europa League final with previous club Fulham in 2010 and also played in the final of the UEFA Cup for Middlesbrough in 2006.