FORMER Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has branded the A-League the easy way out for Aussie players and the national team is suffering as a result, in an exclusive one on one in the new issue of Australian FourFourTwo, out today.
In a six page interview he fields readers' questions but pulls no punches when he's asked why he thinks the Socceroos failed to develop on their success at the 2006 World Cup, blaming the A-League for providing a safety net for players who would previously had to stay in Europe and fight for a first team spot by improving their skills.
Schwarzer, 42, who recently left league leaders Chelsea in pursuit of first team football with relegation-battlers Leicester City, adds: "All of us who played at the 2006 World Cup went throught the hard times in Europe.
"It is not happening any more. We have very few guys getting their head down and and digging in in Europe. The A-League is a way out; it is an escape route for some players.
"You see it now more than ever. Guys come overseas, they last six months and then they turn around and return to the A-League."
The 109-times capped keeper also reveals why he'll never play in the A-League, has harsh words for Guus Hiddink's man management in Germany 2006 - and how he thinks Ange Postecoglou's squad choices cost us a result against both Chile and Netherlands at Brazil 2014.
Also in the new issue, we go behind the scenes to find out how a squad of rookies and rejects became the champions of Asia - even if Western Sydney Wanderers A-League season has gone badly off the rails this season.
And we get a rare sit down chat with the Socceroos' silent assassin Mark Bresciano, hailed by those who know him best as Australia's greatest ever player. He and those closest to him tell us the age-defying secret behind his devastating talent.
Plus with the Asian Cup now under way, we go behind enemy lines to get the vital intel from the Aussie pioneers who know Asia from the inside after making a name for themselves in our near neighbours and new backyard rivals.
Finally, with the new year now underway we look back on the year past and pick our heroes (and heroines) of 2014 in a tumultuous year in Australia and worldwide.
The new issue is on sale in newsagents now, with digital versions available shortly.