Kalac and Popovic confirm retirement plans
The list of Socceroos international retirements that will occur after Saturday’s night friendly against Paraguay at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium has risen to four. Zeljko Kalac and Tony Popovic has today revealed they will join Tony Vidmar and Stan Lazaridis in calling it a day on international careers.
The list of Socceroos international retirements that will occur after Saturday-s night friendly against Paraguay at Brisbane-s Suncorp Stadium has risen to four.
Goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac and defender Tony Popovic have today revealed they will line-up for their final match after long and distinguished careers with the national team. They follow on from Hyundai A-League based players Stan Lazaridis and Tony Vidmar, earlier announcing their retirements after Saturday night-s match.
Kalac told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: "Saturday night will be my last game for Australia," while Popovic revealed today to AAP, "It's great to end my international career in Australia."
"I'm retiring after the Paraguay game," Kalac continued. "There have been great times for me throughout my career and the World Cup was a great buzz. But I think this is the best way for me to finish. I believe it is the right time to let the younger guys step up and get the experience in the qualifying matches for the Asia Cup."
The lanky keeper, nicknamed “spider”, made his debut in 1992 in a 1-0 loss to Malaysia in Jakarta and since then has battled with the likes of Mark Bosnich and Mark Schwarzer for the No.1 spot.
His last match for the Socceroos was at the World Cup finals in Germany against Croatia and Saturday-s game will mark his 54th senior appearance in the green and gold.
Kalac added, "I'm going to get the opportunity to go out properly, with some of the players I have played my whole career with, in front of a full house in Brisbane. It's not been an easy decision, but I'm convinced it's the right one."
Popovic, also managed an appearance at the World Cup finals, where he started against Brazil, before succumbing to a leg injury after 35 minutes.
Saturday-s game will be his 58th appearance for the Socceroos, a career that started ironically in Brisbane in 1995, a 0-0 draw against Colombia.
"My first cap was here in Brisbane (1995) and to finish in Brisbane is a nice way to end. It's nice to have the opportunity to do it, you don't always get the chance to do it (retire) on your own terms.
"It's time to move on and become a fan and hopefully I can support the boys at the next World Cup," Popovic told AAP.
Lazaridis announced in August that he would call a day on his international career, albeit a little later than expected, after being ruled out of the Kuwait clash because of illness.
The former West Ham and Birmingham City fullback will play his 60th match on Saturday night after making his debut in 1993 against Kuwait.
Vidmar revealed in a weekend newspaper that Saturday night would also be his final match after 75 appearances (3rd all-time highest number of A Internationals) and 3 goals that started way back in 1991 against Czechoslavakia.
Football fans will get the chance to thank the players at a Homecoming Event at Brisbane-s Queen Street Mall on Thursday. The event will start at 11.30pm with the Socceroos expected to appear at 1.00pm.
There are still a few tickets left for the match against Paraguay, who were also at the World Cup finals in Germany, where they bowed out in the first round.