‘The most emotional game of my career’: humbled Cahill ready for Caltex Socceroos farewell
Tim Cahill admits it will be hard to contain his emotions when he turns out for the Caltex Socceroos one more time in a farewell clash against Lebanon in November.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Cahill will get a swansong for Australia in the friendly against the Cedars at ANZ Stadium.
The 38-year-old revealed his surprise at getting the call to play a farewell game on home soil and says it’s an honour to get the chance to say thank you to the Australian public.
“It will be the most emotional game of my career,” Cahill told reporters on Tuesday.
“The emotions will be just being in the changing room and being part of the group for that camp in Brisbane and Sydney.
“Because it’s a proper game, it’s the same preparation and it’s another chance to put a cap against your name and to possibly score, as a group of players and to win and prepare for an Asian Cup.
“For my teammates, they know what I’m all about and what they are going to get from me even if I enter the pitch for a minute or don’t at all.”
Going out with a bang
While not sure exactly what role he would play against Lebanon, Cahill vowed to do all he could to get on the scoresheet should he get on the pitch.
“It’s never been a holiday camp pulling on a national team jersey and it won’t be if I come on,” Cahill said.
“I’m excited by it. I’ll definitely be fit if Arnie needs me.
Asked how desperate he was to finish with a goal, Cahill said: “I’ve scored 50 so I’m happy, I’m content.
“But to score one more would be great because as a striker and an athlete, you always want more. You’re always looking for the next moment. “
Who will step into his goal-scoring shoes?
One of the big questions since Cahill’s retirement is just which player can fill the void left by Australia’s greatest-ever goalscorer.
The likes of Tomi Juric, Jamie Maclaren, Mitch Duke, Apostolos Giannou and youngster John Iredale have been included in Arnold’s first 30-man squad for a training camp in Turkey this week.
It’s a position that remains wide open heading towards January’s AFC Asian Cup but Cahill is confident goals will flow for the Caltex Socceroos, providing the candidates get things right at club level first.
“I’ve been basically grooming the players for the last four years in terms of consistency playing for their clubs…and goals with their clubs,” Cahill explained.
“What happens is repetition, repetition and when you do it for your club, you do it for your country.
“For me, there are goals there but now it’s about doing it on the international stage when it counts.”
Cahill scored an incredible 50 goals from 107 appearances for the Caltex Socceroos, constantly delivering vital goals on the big stage.
He has no doubt the current Caltex Socceroos squad is in good shape to build on the success they have had in recent years.
“The system hasn’t changed for the last four years, the style, the way we play, we keep the ball, high possession, we’re programmed in a way that even when Bert [van Marwijk] took over he was surprised at our professionalism, how we carried ourselves and how much we put into preparation,” he said.
“Arnie will bring in his style which will add to what’s already been implemented. We’re going to defend an Asian Cup, we have the players to do it and I’m excited by a big opportunity for us to do well internationally again.”
Playing on in India
While Cahill retired from international football following June’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, his playing days aren’t over after signing to play in the Indian Super League this season.
After speaking to the likes of ex-Test cricketer Brett Lee and former Manchester United defender Wes Brown, Cahill joined Jamshedpur FC in the 10-team ISL, which gets underway at the end of September.
Cahill was approached by the owners of the club to be a marquee player in the league, which is heading into its fifth season.
“I’ve played everywhere in the world, England, America, China, Australia…it was definitely something I wanted to tick off, whether it was exploring the TV opportunities or anything else,” Cahill said of his next club move.
“I looked at the market after months of sitting back chilling out and you have to look at the bigger picture. I looked at the population, I looked at the team…it’s something exciting.
“Why not? I’m ambitious, I’m 38-years-old, I’m still fit. I’m taking my physio with me, the set-up of the club is good and it’s a market I’m excited to go and try and explore and, more importantly, do well on the pitch for the club.”
Tickets for the Caltex Socceroos’ match against Lebanon are now on sale to the General Public via www.socceroos.com.au/tickets.