Australia’s greatest ever football player, Tim Cahill, will play his final game for the Socceroos tomorrow night at ANZ Stadium in his hometown of Sydney. The match will be a friendly against Lebanon, and sadly it seems very unlikely to draw the crowd that the retirement of a legend deserves – however it is beyond doubt that he will be remembered fondly.
For well over a decade the name Cahill has been synonymous with the national team, and even at the latest World Cup many were unhappy that he wasn’t given the chance to score at his fourth tournament – especially as he was largely responsible for getting there.
Cahill will always be the first Australian to score at the Men’s World Cup Tournament, as well as the first (and to date only) to score at 3 World Cup Finals – as well as one of only 6 men ever. He was an integral part of the “Golden Generation” that reached the quarter finals in 2006, and again starred in 2010 and 2014.
By the 2018 tournament Cahill and the Socceroos were so intertwined that he was by far the main feature of the national team’s advertising campaigns, despite by then being a fringe player in the squad. Despite his age, however, he still starred in the play-offs that got Australia to the tournament in the first place, scoring several crucial goals.
In a nation that is obsessed with AFL and the rugby codes in winter and cricket in summer Cahill was one of the few footballers to capture national attention, and played a large role in turning football from a once-every-four-years curiosity into a legitimate sport that the Australian public is interested in.
While Cahill’s glory days are well behind him, a small but vocal crowd is sure to turn up tomorrow night, desperate to see him farewell the team he has represented for so long in style. A few classic Cahill headers into goal would be great as well!