Sunday 18 June 2017, 23:36

Evergreen Cahill takes pride in age-defying feat

  • Tim Cahill lines up for Australia at the age of 37

  • With goals in three World Cups, Cahill has a knack for scoring on the big stage

  • Cahill says he is fit and ready to contribute at Russia 2017

By Pete Smith with Australia

Tim Cahill has long been used to being written off. One suspects that is almost the way he likes it. Certainly it is a mentality that fits perfectly with an Ange Postecoglou-coached Australia who revel in the idea of rocking the traditional order of world football.

As a teenager Cahill was told he was too small to make it. A brief quarter-hour cameo for Samoa in a youth tournament as a 14-year-old delayed his debut for Australia until he was 24.

Three years ago, Cahill trudged off the pitch in Porto Alegre having scored one of the most spectacular goals the FIFA World Cup™ had ever seen. Cahill’s career obituaries were written, and understandably so. After all he was 34, and modern football can be a young man’s game, But Australia’s greatest-ever goalscorer possesses a special mentality, one that is admired by many and matched by few.

Now three years on he is back at a major FIFA tournament, preparing to do battle with world champions Germany in the Socceroos’ opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.

Cahill, quite rightly, couldn’t be prouder of his achievement. “Being in this Confederations Cup was the first thing for me as a player to just get here,” he said. “I’m here now and for all us 23 players it is about contributing.

“My aim is to be at this competition and be ready for five minutes or 95 minutes. You have to be ready, if not you have no place here (at international level).”

The great survivor The remnants of Australia’s ageing golden generation disappeared when Postecoglou assumed the reins. Cahill, however, not only stayed in the team but flourished.

“Timmy has been great since the moment I took over,” said Postecoglou. “He has embraced that leadership role. It keeps him young and as he says, it keeps him young, hanging out with the younger boys!

“Because he has done it all at the highest level, the other players respond to that. Tim is here because of his ability, but he adds to that with his experience.”

It is 12 years since Australia featured at a Confederations Cup. Almost inevitably Cahill is the lone survivor from that Socceroos’ campaign which began with a 4-3 defeat against Germany.

Since then Cahill has played, and scored, in three World Cups. He was also a key figure as Australia won the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 2015, earning their ticket to the Tournament of Champions in the process.

This is a man that knows how success can be achieved at international level. So does he have belief that Australia can make an impact at Russia 2017?

“Over the past two years I have seen all the players buy into a philosophy and evolve as footballers. When everyone watches us play they will really respect it, because they can see us playing football and taking a strong hold.”

Cahill currently has 97 caps and 48 goals, meaning two rare milestones are within touching distance.

It would take a brave gambler to bet against a man who invariably shines when the spotlight is at its brightest.