After becoming the oldest player to make his Champions League debut, Mark Schwarzer expressed his gratitude towards Jose Mourinho.
The 41 year old was handed a first appearance in the competition in last night’s 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge, with the Australian keeping a clean sheet as we secured the win which saw us finish as winners of Group E.
‘It was fantastic,’ said the Blues goalkeeper. ‘It was a great opportunity for me and one that I didn’t think would ever happen to me in my career, but once I signed for Chelsea there was always a lingering hope in the back of my mind it would happen and I’m very grateful to the manager for giving me the opportunity to play.
‘I was elated after the game, I realised a couple of years ago you should never say never, you should always keep dreaming and keep hoping things will one day fall your way, you have to keep doing the right things and working hard.
‘It was huge, it’s very difficult to compare it to a final but it’s very much up there due to the fact it was a Champions League game. Being given the opportunity to play was a dream come true.’
Schwarzer was a virtual spectator for much of the game as Steaua seldom threatened, but he was simply delighted to play a part in what was ultimately a significant victory.
‘This was a big game for us and it’s important to finish top of the group and in the right side of the pot,’ he explained. ‘When you look at it on paper it’s a huge advantage to finish top of the group so we have to make the most of it.
‘It was a good game to play in, we had to be on our toes because we were conscious of a Steaua counter attack, we didn’t capitalise on the opportunities we had and it was one of those games where we had to be 100 per cent focused.
‘I think we are improving game by game and hopefully that will continue. Obviously we’ve had the odd blip but with the quality of players we have in all positions, what we can achieve is limitless.’
With the Blues safely through to the last 16 of the Champions League we can look forward to Monday’s draw, when we will find out who our opponents will be when the competition resumes in February.
‘It’s very exciting,’ Schwarzer said. ‘I’ve always sat from afar and watched these draws so it’s nice to be a part of it. I feel very privileged to be in this position, I’ve enjoyed the journey thus far and I want to continue on it.
‘The demand is huge at this club to be successful and I’m really enjoying that aspect of it. I’m enjoying the expectation of having to win every game, as footballer players that’s what you want to do, and I want to win trophies, that’s why I came to Chelsea.’
Schwarzer also paid tribute to his manager, after Mourinho was able to help him realise his dream.
‘I think he’s brilliant, he has a very humorous side but he also has a very serious side,’ explained Schwarzer. ‘He’s a winner through and through, he demands the upmost from everybody at the club, not just players. For me it’s an unbelievable experience to work under him and I feel very fortunate.’