SYDNEY - Veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Australia's most-capped player ever, on Wednesday announced his retirement from international football, with teammates expressing shock at the decision.
The 41-year-old had appeared set for a swansong at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but informed Football Federation Australia on Wednesday morning that he was quitting with immediate effect.
Currently the back-up keeper to Petr Cech at Chelsea, Schwarzer played 109 times for Australia since his debut in 1993.
But his recent move from being Fulham's first-choice gloveman to playing second fiddle to Cech raised questions as to whether he would be able to hold onto his starting role in the national team.
His decision to retire came just hours before new Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou announced his first squad since taking over from the sacked Holger Osieck, and it initially included Schwarzer.
"Mark has been a tremendous servant for the national team," said Postecoglou.
"He is our most capped Socceroo, has been one of our best performers over a long period of time and he has always remained passionate about playing for Australia.
"I know the Australian football community will join me in paying tribute to Mark for everything he's done for the Socceroos."
Long-time Socceroos teammate Tim Cahill said he was shocked at the decision and hoped he stayed involved in some way as a mentor.
The former Everton stalwart said he only found out when the news became public.