Cahill poised to achieve Socceroos immortality

Some time this year goalscoring hero Timothy Filiga Cahill should score his 50th goal for Australia and make his 100th national team appearance to cement his status as a Socceroos immortal.


Tim Cahill is two goals short of a half century Source: Reuters

The man regarded by many as the greatest Socceroos star of them all should etch his name in Australia's football history with an extraordinary tally that would be almost impossible to surpass.

At the moment Cahill, who at 37 has become the face of the A-League after forging a successful career abroad, is on a record 48 goals from 94 matches in the green and gold.

Only goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, 109, defender Lucas Neill, 96, and Brett Emerton, 95, have played more matches for Australia.

And with two 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers coming up against Iraq and the United Arab Emirates in the next few days, the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia in June and remaining qualifying matches in the second half of the year, it is fair to expect Cahill to reach the historic double milestone in 2017.

His record goalscoring tally is 19 better than that of second-placed Damian Mori and has already earned him legendary status in Australia and overseas. Cahill's position as Australia's greatest would be set in concrete if, as expected, he overtakes Emerton's, Neill's and Schwarzer's appearances tally.

Which is why his decision to end his career in Australia should be seen as a godsend by all the true lovers of our game.

Unfortunately, his arrival has not been welcomed with the widespread approval it deserves.

Perspective is not a prevalent or prominent feature surrounding Australia's football narrative.

In much the same way as some pundits amazingly greeted the announcement that Fox will back the A-League to the tune of $346 million over six years with a 'but it's less than what they were expecting' verdict that almost defied belief, some sceptics see Cahill's return home as nothing more than a brazen bid for a final big pay day in his career.

The feeling among some is that Cahill's ageing legs cannot withstand the rigours of playing for 90 minutes in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the modern game that is becoming faster, stronger and more demanding than it has ever been.

So a stint in the slower-paced A-League, it seems, would give him the opportunity to play more games, score a few more goals and keep alive his dream of playing in a fourth World Cup.

And in the process add a few more zeroes to his bank account, to be sure.

Fair enough, I reckon. It's a classic win-win scenario.

Cahill, like each and every one of us, has every right to work wherever he wants to and he deserves all the accolades and rewards he can reap as he prepares to hang up his bountiful boots in the not-too-distant future.

The man who could so easily have been lost to Australian football because of his Samoan heritage and family links with Ireland has helped make the Socceroos one of Asia's most competitive football teams.
At one stage at the height of his career he seemed to be carrying the Socceroos team on his broad shoulders.

Ever since he made his full international debut for Australia in a friendly match against South Africa in London in 2004, Cahill became one of the mainstays of the side, scoring decisive goals that changed the course of our football history and many others that saved the Socceroos from the jaws of defeat.

So we should appreciate the fact that after so many years of catching barely a glimpse of him when on home international duty, we now can watch him play nearly every week and watch him on television or read about him in the papers almost every day.

I really do not care about the commercial side of Cahill's coup. How or where he makes the most of his name and fame is none of my business and, I dare say, nobody else's.

What I do know is that as a football fan I am genuinely thrilled to be able to switch on the television or go to a game to watch Cahill play.

Cahill, let's face it, is not the most technically endowed footballer we have ever produced although I reckon many world stars would love to be able to head the ball the way he does, especially when he comes in with those late runs from the blind side.

The headed goal he scored for Melbourne City against Newcastle Jets at the weekend proved that he has lost none of his aerial prowess.

The World Cup in Brazil showed that he has a decent left foot too.

He also is past his peak and at a stage of his career when his body takes more time to recover from knocks - which might explain why he does not play for City every week - but he keeps delivering for club and country.

The A-League season is its final stages and Cahill might have scored a contender for goal of the season with that long-distance screamer in his first derby against Melbourne Victory. He also gave his new club their first piece of silverware with a trademark header in the FFA Cup final against Sydney FC.

Needless to say, Football Federation Australia are getting their pound of flesh from their investment in Cahill under the contentious guest player rule.

FFA chipped in with $500,000 to help City snare Cahill on a two-year player contract believed to be worth $7m.

He has become the smiling face of the A-League and his services are in constant demand from promoters, media and fans. He even has his own management team.

He has given dozens of interviews and signed hundreds of autographs in his short time here.

If Cahill continues to deliver for City, the A-League and the Socceroos, our game will be the winner in the long run.

Cahill, let's not forget, is a special Australian player and should be remembered accordingly.

Top 10 Socceroos appearances
109: Mark Schwarzer
96: Lucas Neill
95: Brett Emerton
94: Tim Cahill
87: Alex Tobin
84: Mark Bresciano
84: Paul Wade
80: Luke Wilkshire
76: Tony Vidmar
68: Scott Chipperfield
68: Mile Jedinak

Top 10 Socceroos scorers
48: Tim Cahill
29: Damian Mori
28: Archie Thompson
27: John Aloisi
25: Attila Abonyi
25: John Kosmina
20: Brett Emerton
20: David Zdrilic
19: Graham Arnold
18: Ray Baartz
(Stats provided by Andrew Howe)

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6 min read
Published 20 March 2017 at 9:40am
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS