Tim Cahill will play his final match as a Socceroo tonight in an international friendly against Lebanon in Sydney. It will be Cahill's 108th international match for Australia. He has so far scored 51 goals (including one in a non-A international).
We say #ThanksTim by sharing exclusively an extract from Andrew Howe's profile of Cahill from the Encyclopedia of Socceroos - Every National Team Player, published earlier this year by Fair Play Publishing.
At 108 matches and at least 51 goals lasting more than 14 years, Tim Cahill has earned the title of the 'greatest Socceroo'.
One of Australian football's most recognised and credentialed players, Tim Cahill became only the second player to reach 100 A appearances for the Socceroos in 2017.
Born in Sydney in 1979, he was junior at Balmain Police Boys club and Marrickville Red Devils. He played at Sydney Olympic youth and then briefly with Sydney United before moving overseas.
His first club abroad was Millwall (1997–2004) where he made 217 league appearances and scored 52 goals, assisting the club to promotion to England's second tier in 2001.
He then played for eight Premier League seasons with Everton (2004–2012), scoring 56 goals in 226 league games commencing with 11 goals over the 2004–2005 season as Everton finished fourth. In addition to his 443 league appearances in England over 15 seasons, he played in many more domestic and international cup games, including FA Cup finals for Millwall in 2004 (L0-3 v Manchester United) and Everton in 2009 (L1-2 v Chelsea).
His 2004 FA Cup final appearance was the first by an Australian for over 20 years.
His next stop was United States team New York Red Bulls (2012–2014) where he played 71 league matches and scored 16 goals, including 12 goals in the 2013 season to assist his team to first on the final overall ladder.
Following a stint in China with Shanghai Shenhua (2015, 28 league appearances, 11 goals) and Hangzhou Greentown (2016, 17 appearances, 4 goals) he returned to Australia to join Melbourne City (2016–2017) for 28 appearances and 11 goals, followed by a return to Millwall to prepare for the 2018 World Cup (10 appearances). He is now playing in the Indian Super League for Jamshedpur (2018- ) where he has so far made six appearances and scored one goal.
His international career is unique, well publicised and significant.
With Samoan ancestry from his mother’s side, he appeared for Western Samoa in an Under-20 World Cup qualifier in 1994, aged just 14. Because the appearance had been in a FIFA underage tournament, it ruled him ineligible to represent his country of birth until FIFA amended the rules in 2004 to allow a conditional change of national representation. His scenario was one of the major factors behind the law change.
A internationals (2004-2018): 108 games, 50 goals
Non-A internationals (2006): 1 game, 1 goal
All internationals (2004-2018): 109 games, 51 goals
With a strong desire to play for Australia, his case was pressed for several years at the insistence of national team coach Frank Farina.
His debut for the Socceroos was as a substitute against South Africa in March 2004 (W1-0), played just a week before scoring the winner for Millwall in its FA Cup semi final win (W1-0 v Sunderland).
He then made three starting appearances at the 2004 Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup qualifying series, followed by selection for the Australian team at the 2004 Olympic Games where he headed home a goal against Serbia and Montenegro (W5-1).
In 2005 he played at the Confederations Cup, and in Australia's final World Cup qualifying playoff against Uruguay (D1-1, won on penalties).
He was part of the 2006 (in Germany), 2010 (South Africa) 2014 (Brazil) and 2018 (Russia) World Cups, making a total of nine appearances and scoring four goals over the four tournaments. By scoring in 2006 (W3-1 v Japan), 2010 (W2-1 v Serbia) and 2014 (L1-2 v Chile, L2-3 v Netherlands) he became one of a select few to score in three World Cup finals tournaments.
He also netted in three out of three Asian Cup finals tournaments, including two goals in the 2015 quarter final (W2-0 v China) to assist Australia on its way to the final in his home city of Sydney (W2-1 v South Korea).
His aerial ability in front of goal is apparent with the statistic that 25 of his first 50 goals in A internationals were scored from headers, including two vital headed goals in a World Cup qualifier against Syria in October 2017 (W2-1, W3-2 on aggregate), securing passage to the successful final playoff against Honduras (W3-1 on aggregate).
He was awarded the Oceania Footballer of the Year in 2004, the PFA Men's Footballer of the Year in 2009, and the Football Media Association Australian International Player of the Year in 2010, 2014 and 2015.
This is an extract from Andrew Howe's Encyclopedia of Socceroos - Every National Team Player. It is available exclusively from Fair Play Publishing.