“I’m biding my time waiting for things to happen and then I’ll be on move – if you see what I mean. I’m hopeful, I’m always hopeful.”
Mark Schwarzer was speaking about a potential dream move from Fulham to cross-London neighbours and Barclays English Premier League giants Arsenal back in August.
The Australia international looked certain to quit Craven Cottage after expressing a desire to join the Gunners, who had more than one bid rejected and reportedly offered a player-coach role to the 38-year-old.
After seeing his club turn down Arsene Wenger’s advances, Schwarzer handed in a transfer request and was promptly transfer-listed and dropped from the side.
However, four months later the imposing Australian has completed an about turn.
Schwarzer has re-established himself as Fulham’s number one and ended speculation about his future by signing a new two-year contract at Craven Cottage.
The deal could well see him end his career with last season’s UEFA Europa League finalists and will almost certainly see him forego his dream of playing for Arsenal.
“I’m delighted to have finally signed a contract extension with Fulham after a great deal of speculation surrounding my future in recent months,” he said.
“The club, manager and team have all highlighted their desire to see me stay at the Cottage and, after successful negotiations, I can confirm that my future is with Fulham.
“Since I joined the club in 2008, we have enjoyed a great deal of success and I believe Mark Hughes and the team will build on this success over the forthcoming seasons and continue the club’s progress.
“I have enjoyed two memorable years at the club so far and I am now looking forward to many more.”
Despite accusations that Schwarzer showed a lack of loyalty, Cottagers manager Mark Hughes stuck up for the former Middlesbrough keeper.
“I think Mark was keeping his options open and he had every right to do that,” said the former Manchester City, Blackburn and Wales boss. “But it was the case that he understood where we want to take the club.
“We are delighted as a club and, if we are to be successful in the future, we need a quality keeper, which Mark certainly is.”
Schwarzer looked certain to leave after expressing a desire to join Arsenal, and his U-turn speaks volumes for new manager Hughes’ powers of persuasion.
Revealing the nature of their talks, Hughes said: “I just sat him down and said, ‘For myself and for Fulham to be successful, I need Mark Schwarzer here’.
“That’s basically it, in black and white terms.
“He’s an outstanding keeper and has been for many, many years.
“He understands the Premier League, he understands what it’s all about and we’re a better team when Mark Schwarzer’s playing.
“It was very easy from my point of view to construct an argument because it’s there for everybody to see.”
Hughes also admits he will consider handing Schwarzer a coaching role at the club.
“If that’s something he wants to pursue in the future, I would certainly be receptive to enabling him to possibly start his coaching career and see how it develops,” he said.
“That would be an option for him, I’m sure.”
While Fulham maybe teetering dangerously close to the relegation zone, securing the signature and focus of Schwarzer may prove to be one of the signings of the season.