Tim Cahill is embarking on his fourth, and surely final, World Cup campaign for Australia this summer. The 38-year-old midfielder is the ultimate record-breaker for the socceroos. He is their most-capped outfield player and record goalscorer. Cahill is also the first Australian to score in the World Cup and Asian Cup.
The former-Everton midfielder is the culprit of nearly half of his country’s 11 world cup goals, with five, but will likely be limited to substitute cameos in Russia. Coach, Bert Van Marwijk will have Cahill reserved for when Australia are desperate for a goal or if they need a calming influence to come on and guide the ship to shore. However, if Cahill manages a goal at this World Cup, he will join an esteemed, and very reserved, list of players to score at four separate World Cups.
Those five World Cup goals have produced some stunning efforts – his unstoppable left foot volley against the Netherlands in 2014 the pick of the bunch – yet for all of his incredible exploits for his country, Cahill’s inclusion in the 2018 squad has been met with a large air of contention from Australian fans.
During the 2017-18 club season, Cahill only managed 17 appearances that totalled 160 minutes of league football. He didn’t score a single goal during this period and 10 international outings have only produced two goals. However, those two goals were the all-important strikes as Australia came from behind to beat Syria 2-1 and reach the inter-confederation playoffs against Honduras. Without those goals, Australia simply wouldn’t be in Russia this summer and they highlight Cahill’s ability to rise to the biggest of occasions.
His inclusion in the squad may ruffle a few Australian feathers, especially as he is still the main public face of the side. However, deep down, most fans would rather have Cahill in the squad than not. Van Marwijk himself referred to box-to-box midfielder as the ‘break the glass if needed’ option and, with a squad desperately lacking in recognisable pedigree and quality, he may be punching through that glass quickly and often.
This is the first time in Tim Cahill’s career that he is unfancied by the Australian fans and is not the central figure to his team’s plans. However, Cahill is a history maker. You can be certain that he will be out to prove he can still be Australia’s saviour and join Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose on the shortlist of players to score in four separate World Cup finals.