Socceroos star Tim Cahill has led the tributes to retiring goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, suggesting his departure will trigger massive change in the national team.
The veteran custodian caught Cahill and his teammates by surprise by pulling the plug on his 20-year, 109-cap international career hours before new Australia coach Ange Postecoglou announced his squad to play Costa Rica later this month.
But while shocked by the announcement, Cahill predicts Schwarzer's retirement will the first of many exits as the Socceroos look to the long-term future.
"It's definitely a transitional period with the national team," Cahill told Fox Sports.
"I feel now the country, the federation and obviously football in general is getting behind the bigger picture.
"And the bigger picture is not so much this Brazilian World Cup and the Asian Cup (in 2015), it's the next World Cup and how we're going to develop new talent that's going to make sure we qualify for every competition possible moving forward as a generation."
Asked if that change could include the departure of skipper Lucas Neill in the near future, Cahill replied cautiously: "Lucas's situation is something he's going to have to assess but whenever we're called upon, you'll never say no because it's what we love to do."
Cahill hopes Schwarzer will continue to have a role to play at the 2014 World Cup and conceded his retirement leaves a large hole.
"I'm shocked. He's one of the greatest ambassadors to have played the game and a true gentleman on and off the park," Cahill said.
"He was one of the reasons we were so successful as a national team. He was always the go to guy.
"His experience just getting us to this last World Cup was priceless.
"He's a true professional and nothing but class but if he can't give the same commitment as he did before then I take my hat off to him."
John Aloisi's penalty secured Australia's spot at the 2006 World Cup finals but it was Schwarzer's saves in the shootout that opened the door.
The striker rates the gloveman among the best the Socceroos have produced.
"I was feeling a little bit nervous before that last penalty that he (Schwarzer) saved but once he saved it the confidence came back and I knew all I had to do was put it in the back of the net," Aloisi said of his shirt-removing penalty against Uruguay in 2005.
"We owe him a lot. He made some great saves to get us to World Cup and at World Cups.
"He's up there with the all-time great Socceroo players."
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