Friday 12 August 2016, 07:18

Cahill’s journey finally comes full circle

It has been a long time coming but Australia’s talismanic goalscorer Tim Cahill is finally set to play in his nation’s domestic competition. Cahill has been signed by A-League club Melbourne City on a two-year playing contact, a deal which will also take him through to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

In 1997, an undersized 17-year-old from Sydney with no senior football experience convinced his parents to let him have a crack at becoming a professional in England. Nineteen years later, Cahill has returned to Australia as arguably the nation’s most famous-ever footballer.

“I am here to contribute as much as I can to both the club and, where possible, to the further development of football in Australia,” said Cahill after signing for City.

A year after arriving in England Cahill made his senior debut for Millwall, and he has never looked back. Cahill spent seven seasons at the south London club, culminating in an appearance in the 2004 FA Cup final, becoming the first Australian do so for 50 years.

His most famous stint, however, was at Everton as Cahill averaged a goal every four appearances from midfield, becoming a fan favourite for his whole-hearted performances and genuine passion for the Goodison Park outfit. More recently there were spells at New York Red Bulls, Shanghai Shenhua and Hangzhou Greentown.

Above all, though, Cahill has become an icon for the national team, where his achievements are set to stand the test of time. Always with a knack for the big occasion, Cahill scored Australia’s first-ever FIFA World Cup goal in 2006, and promptly added another in the nation’s first win – a memorable 3-1 triumph over Japan. He scored again at South Africa 2010, and twice more at Brazil 2014, including a spectacular volley against the Netherlands that will feature on World Cup highlights’ reels for years to come. His five World Cup goals leaves Cahill in rare company alongside some of the game’s greats, and his 47 career goals are comfortably a record for the Socceroos.

Little wonder that Cahill’s signing is widely expected to give the A-League - now entering its 12th season - a significant boost.

“Tim’s arrival is the biggest transfer move in the A-League's history,” said Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop. “No player is more popular or has had a bigger impact on the modern game in Australia than Tim Cahill.”

What Cahill lacks in size, he makes up in heart, and it is a characteristic that has been emblematic of his career. Now 36, many predicted Cahill’s career at international level had run its course at Brazil 2014, but there is little sign of Cahill’s light dimming anytime soon.

The FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 looms, as does a return to Russia 12 months later. Don’t rule out Cahill making one more major splash at football’s biggest show.