‘Where did it all go wrong?’ – Mark Bosnich

Mark Bosnich was not run of the mill as a footballer. He experienced many highs and lows during his career, largely spent in England, and the Australian goalkeeper went on to become quite a headline maker in his 20 years in the sport. Those that only remember Bosnich from his stay in the Premiership will probably not know that his last club before retiring was the Central Coast Mariners in the Australian A-League. His presence in the Premiership will be remembered for two spells at Manchester United, a lengthy stay at Aston Villa and a brief period at Chelsea. It seems inevitable to ask then where did it all go wrong for Mark “Bozzie” Bosnich?

Bosnich, having grown up in Sydney, played for a short time at Sydney United- in fact only five appearances were made for them. Then, at the age of just 16, he moved to England to join Manchester United- quite a remarkable turnaround for a career move. In what was his first stint with United, Bosnich hardly figured, missed out on the squads for the winning FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup teams, and subsequently signed for Aston Villa in 1992.

Prior to his move to Aston Villa it was said that he was struggling to stay in England because of problems getting a work permit- the main reason why he left United. However, even though he married an English woman, it was rumoured Bosnich did it in order to be able to return to these shores. When those rumours were brushed aside, Bosnich only became first-choice goalkeeper at Villa during the 1994-95 season and that was a disappointing one for the team as they narrowly avoided relegation. The season after that was a successful one for Villa but one of Bosnich’s moments of controversy that would become frequent in his career. In the same season Villa won the league cup, Bosnich was fined £1000 by the FA after he was found guilty of misconduct by upsetting Tottenham fans with a Nazi salute. Bosnich went on to spend three more seasons at Villa Park before re-joining Manchester United.

By this time Bosnich had separated from the woman he had married during the time of the work permit problem. He was now about to enter a second marriage, in 1999, and almost failed to attend the wedding. There was an incident at strip club during his stag night celebrations, and having been arrested, was only released on bail hours before the wedding. Now that he was in his second stint as a United player, you could be sure that Sir Alex Ferguson would be keeping a close eye on a notorious character. Football wise, it started well for Bosnich as he played a key role in the post Treble season of 99-00. As if the off-the-field problems were not bad enough, the following season saw a dramatic downturn in fortunes as he was now the third choice goalkeeper, after United had signed Fabien Barthez. Bosnich would never play for the Red Devils again.

Bosnich’s next stop in English football was Chelsea. Although this was a move to a club where he would only play seven games, it will, not for the first time, be remembered for arguably one of the biggest scandals that has hit football in this country in the modern era. Bosnich failed a drugs test, got sacked by his new employers and was banned from the game for nine months. The revelation to come out of that was the fact that he had a cocaine problem, and was absent from the game from 2002-2007.

Things went from bad to worse for Bosnich when he returned to football. At first it did not even look like he would get to play for anyone because during his exile a blanked an opportunity to join Walsall, and a move to Bolton did not materialise. He was third time lucky when he began training with QPR in July 2007 but never got offered a contract there. As if the cocaine problem was not bad enough, a year later, in July 2008, Bosnich was made bankrupt at the High Court in London.

Having stayed away from his homeland for much of his career, the goalkeeper had admitted that he regretted to have only represented Australia 17 times. During his international career Bosnich played in a game that he described as “the lowest moment in Australian soccer” when the Socceroos failed to qualify for the 1998 World Cup by losing a two-legged tie with Iran. Bosnich, who moved back to Australia to play for the Central Coast Mariners, before ending up at non-league Sydney Olympic last year, may claim that he played in “the lowest moment” in his country’s history but unfortunately for him there were plenty of low moments in his career.

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