Tuesday November 20 is set to be an emotional night for Tim Cahill as he makes what will be his final appearance in a Caltex Socceroos jersey against Lebanon in Sydney.
Should he get on the pitch at ANZ Stadium, Cahill will make his 108th appearance in the Green and Gold in an international career which has spanned more than 14 years.
With this being the final opportunity to see Australia’s greatest-ever goalscorer in action for the Caltex Socceroos, let’s look back at his very first appearance back in 2004.
A debut which almost never happened
It took a years of legal wrangling to free Cahill to play for the Caltex Socceroos.
Due to his involvement at a youth tournament with Samoa as a teenager, Cahill was effectively ineligible to play for any other nation.
That was until an amendment to FIFA’s rules in 2004 threw the then 24-year-old a lifeline.
The new law allowed a player to switch allegiance to another nation, provided they hadn’t played a full senior international for another country.
With Cahill performing superbly for Millwall in England, it wasn’t long before he was called up by Frank Farina to play for Australia.
Cahill finally turns out in Green and Gold
The date March 30, 2004 will forever be a significant day for Australian football as Cahill made his long-awaited debut for the Caltex Socceroos against South Africa at Loftus Road in London, England.
Cahill played the last 15 minutes on that night, replacing goalscorer Marco Bresciano as Australia prevailed 1-0.
While there was no major contribution from the all-action midfielder in his short cameo, Cahill was just delighted to finally get the first game under his belt, after a nine-year wait for international clearance.
“I received my first cap in a little presentation in the dressing room and there are no words to describe how I feel,” Cahill said at the time.
“It was very emotional.”
What a journey
Less than two years after that first outing, Cahill put his name in Caltex Socceroos folklore by scoring Australia’s first goals at a FIFA World Cup in the memorable 3-1 win over Japan.
And he’s been delivering for Australia ever since, amassing 107 caps, 50 goals, an AFC Asian Cup title win and four appearances at the FIFA World Cup.
The fact Cahill is still going 14 years on from that debut is a testament to his ability, work ethic and professionalism.